888, WSOP Renew Online Poker Partnership

WSOP.com keeps its software provider

888 Holdings has announced that it has inked a multi-year extension to its B2B partnership with Caesars Interactive Entertainment. No duration or specific monetary terms were revealed in Tuesday’s press release.

The upshot of this is that 888 will continue to be the World Series of Poker’s software provider for the WSOP.com online poker site. Caesars owns the World Series of Poker brand.

There are only four states right now with online poker industries up and running: Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. WSOP.com has a presence in both Nevada and New Jersey. 888 also provides the platform for the three racino-operated online poker rooms in Delaware, though they are not World Series of Poker-branded. They do, however share player liquidity with WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey, forming the All American Poker Network (AAPN), the only interstate poker network in the United States (also a network whose name is never used for anything).

Delaware players do not, though, get to participate in online World Series of Poker events because they are not actually playing on WSOP.com.

The deal also means that 888 will launch its new “Poker 8” software in the United States. The software has already gone live in Europe. The company hypes it as a “significant advancement in the user experience.”

US expansion on the way

In the announcement, 888’s SVP – Head of U.S. Yaniv Sherman said, among other things: “We are also excited at the prospect of adding new states to our unique interstate poker network in 2021 and beyond, which we believe would drive a significant increase in liquidity for poker players on the 888 platform.”

There has been speculation that 888/WSOP.com may expand in the U.S., and this certainly confirms that 888 and Caesars are confident that something will happen this year. Pennsylvania is the obvious answer to the question of where WSOP.com will expand (we’re assuming they will use the WSOP brand), as it is the only one of the four states with online poker not to be on the AAPN. There is also very little competition; the only online poker room currently live in the Keystone State is PokerStars. That’s a heck of a competitor, but it’s still the only one. Pennsylvania regulations also allow for interstate poker compacts.

The other possibility is Michigan, though the outlook there, as the Magic 8 Ball would say, is hazy. Michigan is finally ready to launch online gambling on Friday, but it will only be sports betting for now. The state has legalized online poker, but there has been no talk as to when poker rooms might launch.

Online casino games would likely come next, as they are easier to implement and more profitable. Poker is the most difficult to test because of the player-versus-player aspect of the game and it is the least profitable of the three main categories of online gambling, so it is naturally last on the priority list. It is entirely possible that online poker will launch in Michigan this year, but it is also entirely possible that it won’t.

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