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Publicly Traded Online Poker Companies

Most large, European-focused online poker rooms are connected to a publicly traded company. The connection might be direct; the poker room itself could be owned by a public company. An example of this is Party Poker, which is owned by PartyGaming, a major company on the London Stock Exchange. online poker 468x60 Another way a poker room could be directly connected to a public company is if it uses the public company's software. For example, while Titan Poker is not owned by a publicly traded company, it is on the iPoker network, which is owned by a publicly traded company (Playtech). This week's article will describe some of the major publicly traded companies that are in the online poker business. Party Gaming (PRTY.L) One of the most well-known online gambling companies is Party Gaming. This company owns Party Poker and every other Party-related gambling company (such as Party Casino and Party Bets). Party also owns Empire Poker, which is on the same network as Party Poker (Party Poker and Empire Poker are the only sites on this poker network). Party Gaming also recently acquired Noble Poker, which is on the iPoker network. Its Noble Poker acquisition represents the first time Party Gaming has owned a poker room that is not on the Party Poker network. Prior to the UIGEA, Party Poker was the largest online poker room. Currently, it is second due to the loss of its US players. However, Party Poker is still growing considerably. It has also recently translated its software into multiple languages, including German. SportingBet (SBT.L) Sportingbet's flagship operation is its online sportsbook, Sportingbet.com. However, it also owns Paradise Poker, one of the oldest online poker rooms. Sportingbet acquired Paradise Poker several years ago. This transaction represented one of the first major acquisitions in the online gambling sphere. At first, it seemed Sportingbet's purchase was wise. Paradise Poker initially thrived under its new owner. Unfortunately for Sportingbet, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed. At the time of the UIGEA's passing, Paradise Poker's client base was primarily American. Because of the new law, Sportingbet decided to say goodbye to the majority of its acquired player base. With most of its player gone, Paradise languished as one of the smaller European-focused online poker rooms. Paradise Poker had always been an independent poker room, meaning it was never on a poker network with other sites. However, in order to increase its player base, Sportingbet decided to move Paradise to the International Poker Network, which is owned by Boss Media (a Swedish publicly traded online gambling company). By moving Paradise Poker to this new network, Paradise's players could enjoy competing against a larger player base. Playtech (PTEC.L) Playtech is an Israeli online gambling software company. It has both casino and poker products. Its poker software powers the iPoker network, which is home to sites such as Titan Poker, Noble Poker, and CD Poker. The iPoker network was founded in 2004 and has grown tremendously over the past three years. It recently merged with the Tain and Tribeca networks to become one of the largest poker networks. This network is now of similar size to Everest Poker and the OnGame network. Bwin (BWIN.VI) Bwin is primarily an online sportsbook. Its flagship site, bwin.com, is well-known throughout Europe. Unfortunately for Bwin's CEOs, the French government took notice of the company as well. This past September, French authorities arrested the two CEOs due to Bwin's practice of marketing towards French players. The case against the two executives is still pending. In the online poker sphere, Bwin owns the OnGame network. Bwin bought Ongame from its previous Swedish owners a couple years ago. OnGame is currently the second-largest non-US poker site behind Party Poker, though Everest Poker and the iPoker network threaten to overtake it. The flagship poker site on the Ongame network is Poker Room. Originally, PokerRoom was a stand-alone poker site. Several years ago, Ongame decided to transform its poker site from a stand-alone poker room into a network. Now, over a dozen poker rooms are on the Ongame poker network, include Prime Poker and Betsson. Gigamedia (GIGM) Gigamedia is a Taiwanese company that owns a variety of internet companies, including Everest Poker, one of the largest online poker sites. Everest Poker was the first poker room to offer software in multiple languages. Currently, Everest Poker's software boasts translations into sixteen languages, which is the most of any cardroom. Everest Poker was never marketed towards US players, so it was minimally affected by the UIGEA. The stock has grown spectacularly recently, up about 40% so far in 2007. Cryptologic (CRYP) Cryptologic is an online casino and poker software supplier. They run the Cryptologic network, which is host to sites such as Caribbean Sun Poker, InterPoker, and Will Hill. Cryptologic fully owns and runs the InterPoker skin on its poker network. While the Cryptologic network used to accept US players prior to the UIGEA, it always directed the bulk of its marketing towards European players. This turned out to be a wise decision, as the company promptly ceased servicing US players when the UIGEA passed. Following the UIGEA, most publicly traded online poker companies saw their market capitalizations cut into fractions of their previous values. In contrast, Cryptologic's stock has remained relatively strong. The stock is trading at a 52-week high, meaning that the stock's price has increased despite the UIGEA.

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