PokerStars goes live with BetStars sports betting brand

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The Amaya-owned online poker site has rolled out its BetStars sportsbook across three domains, with the aim of expanding into new jurisdictions and adding new features throughout 2016.

Poker giant PokerStars has announced the launch of its new ‘BetStars’ sports betting platform, with the aim of making the new brand “one of the most talked about sports betting sites of 2016”.  The new sportsbook is currently available in selected jurisdictions on three separate domains – betstars.com, betstars.eu and betstars.uk – but PokerStars plans to roll out the product in other countries in the course of the year.

“We’re very excited about the launch of the BetStars brand, and expect it to be one of the most talked about sports betting sites in 2016 as it continues to evolve with new products and features that we believe will set us apart as a betting brand for the true sports fan,” commented Rafi Ashkenazi, CEO of Amaya-owned Rational Group.

“We’re applying the same dedication and passion we have for poker to sports betting and intend to create an authentic, world-class offering. The BetStars brand will build on this passion and provide a safe, trustworthy and, most importantly, exciting environment for sports fans.”

BetStars offers 23 sports to bet on including football, tennis, basketball and eSports, with other events such as horseracing to be launched in 2016. Jones also confirmed that the finished product would have a range of in-play betting options and “exclusive offers and promotions that sports bettors expect from a world-class online sportsbook”.

At the start of December, it was revealed that PokerStars had purchased BetStars domains in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Denmark and Germany – an indication that PokerStars is hoping to target customers in these jurisdictions over the course of the year.

“PokerStars anticipates the brand will expand into additional key jurisdictions throughout 2016, extending its reach to approximately half of PokerStars’ unique active poker customers,” the company said in a statement.

The betting product will be integrated with existing PokerStars poker and casino products, with a single wallet used to pay for all three services on the site, and the company will be launching a major marketing campaign in early 2016 to raise awareness of the brand.

Meanwhile, PokerStars continues to face strong backlash from existing players as a result of its planned changes to VIP rules, which led thousands of users to participate in a three-day boycott at the start of December. The proposed changes are part of an initiative to encourage casual users back to site by redressing imbalances between recreational players and professionals, including the use of decision making software and seating scripts. The most controversial changes, however, are alterations to the rewards system that will benefit regular low-stakes players at the expense of high stakers.

“This is a demonstration of force and an effort to show PokerStars that we are a body of players, not just individuals,” Dani Stern, the organiser of the boycott, told PocketFives. “While PokerStars claims the changes are to provide relief to recreational players, there is no such change happening. They are telling their players outright lies and we will not stand for it.”

PokerStars head of corporate communications, Eric Hollreiser, acknowledged the boycott in a blogpost but said that any negative effects had been offset by the launch of a holiday promotion that led to a spike in traffic on the site. He said that PokerStars remained committed to enforcing the changes.


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