The Stars Group has inked a deal with International Entertainment Corp that will see the casino and entertainment company operate PokerStars’ live events and poker rooms across Asia.
When The City of Dreams (COD) and PokerStars parted ways recently, I assumed PokerStars made the call in the wake of the Chinese Ministry of Culture proposing to pull the plug on online poker (social or otherwise) in the People’s Republic on June 1.
Since the US debacle, PokerStars has been keen not to blemish their sheen further, and it made sense to keep their powder dry until they learned more about the Ministry of Culture’s intentions. That was until Lawrence Ho shared his hunch with the world. The Melco Resorts & Entertainment owner told the press that CODs live poker venture with Stars was never profitable, and they got the boot so they could use the tablespace for more profitable table games.
In the wake of the Stars split, the higher-ups in the Isle of Man always indicated their desire to remain a driving force in the region, and today, their murky plans become somewhat more transparent.
On Friday, The Stars Group (the owners of PokerStars) announced a partnership with the Hong Kong-listed International Entertainment Corp that sees the latter owning the rights to operate PokerStars land-based live events and poker rooms under the Red Spade brand throughout Asia.
Here is an official quote from a Stars Group representative:
“The Stars Group has entered into an agreement with Hong Kong-based International Entertainment Corporation to license the PokerStars brand for land-based live events and poker rooms across Asia. IEC, a publicly listed company, will hold the sole and exclusive rights to run PokerStars branded events in certain Asian countries as mutually agreed by The Stars Group and IEC, which will be operated through a subsidiary.”
Pies, Piers and PokerStars
International Entertainment Corp is in the hotel, casino and entertainment business, but recently agreed upon a deal to become the majority shareholder of the English Football League (EFL) Championship side Wigan Athletic.
The former Premier League team and 2012/13 FA Cup winners hit the news this year when they knocked Man City out of the FA Cup. Chairman Dave Whelan lets go of the reins after his side gained promotion to the Championship after winning EFL League 1.
One wonders how many times Tony Bloom has played poker with Stanley Choi?
Bloom was once a high stakes shark, who now owns the Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion. Choi, the chairman of International Entertainment Corp, is frequently spotted on the high stakes circuit where he has won close to $8m in live tournaments, including a $6.5m win in a Macau High Roller in 2012.
Choi is also an advisor to Alex Dreyfus’s new esports project chiliZ, and Dreyfus recently partnered with PokerStars to run the online side of his new GLP India project.