GVC Investments in PartyPoker Begin Paying Off

GVC Investments in PartyPoker Begin Paying Off

The latest numbers from GVC Holdings, parent company of PartyPoker, were positive. And one of the standout figures from the report summarizing GVC’s results from the first half of 2018 was the growth of PartyPoker. It’s year-on-year numbers were 36% higher than the same period in 2017.

PartyPoker has always been near the top of the online poker industry, though it was a leader in the early 2000s before PokerStars took over that spot. And when GVC bought PartyPoker in 2015, the focus on its growth was apparent but never as significantly as in the past year. The brand has increased its visibility with an increasing number of poker ambassadors, put Mike Sexton in a position that mimics his previous one in which he helped boost the company to market leadership, and become much more transparent about improving its software per customer input.

And while PartyPoker has solidly pursued second place for global online poker behind PokerStars, the company has put a distance in front of 888poker. If PartyPoker continues to climb and encourage PokerStars customers to make the switch, the latter could eventually have a battle for first place on its poker plate.

The Results

Overall, GVC showed positive results in the first half of 2018. Net gaming revenue was up 18%, sports brands up 19%, and games brands up 13%. European retail growth was at 29% with particularly encouraging numbers out of Italy, and the World Cup drove much success during the period.

PartyPoker’s net gaming revenue alone was 36% ahead, “driven in part by a very successful live events programme and despite the impact of the withdrawal from Australia in 2017.” The increase was also credited to the recent online poker shared liquidity between France and Spain that launched and toward the end of the first half of 2018, but those two individual markets were growing on their own before the combination of pools per the European shared liquidity agreement that also includes Italy and Portugal.

Another benefit of note was the completed acquisition of Ladbrokes Coral in March 2018. Though it only showed in a portion of the first-half results, its online poker room alongside PartyPoker produced significant results. Ladbrokes Poker was a major player in the poker industry during the poker boom and has continued to hold a solid base in the European market. The Ladbrokes and PartyPoker players have not yet been combined, and Ladbrokes has performed well for several years on the iPoker Network, but shared pools remains a consideration for the future.

Upping the Game

One of the main focuses of PartyPoker throughout 2018 thus far has been the implementation of serious and wide-ranging improvements to its online poker software. The latest updates were detailed in August to include everything from better lobby filters, aesthetic changes to the tables, increased variety and better structures in multi-table tournaments.

Some of these changes have come about due to customer input, but players have felt increasingly that they have advocates in the site ambassadors and team pros. Patrick Leonard, for example, has been corresponding with many PartyPoker players on social media and advocated changes on their behalf.

The company’s general outreach to the poker community and efforts to maintain more personal relationships with its players has been notable of late. Many players have been seeking an online poker “home” with an operator that offers transparency, a willingness to listen, and a focus on customer support.

Recent Tests

PartyPoker hasn’t been without its challenges. One of the most recent setbacks was its troubles with DDoS attacks, something that has faced most online poker sites in recent months. But even with the difficulties and frustrated players, PartyPoker maintained contact with its customers and resolved issues as they were able.

There was also a bit of a kerfuffle with regard to the recent Powerfest series. Some players took to the Two Plus Two forums to complain that PartyPoker lowered the guarantees – sometimes by as much as $500K – for several of its Powerfest tournaments without notice. David Huber explained the issues in detail on Part Time Poker, noting that players who pre-registered for the events were not notified, nor was any public statement made about the changes.

PartyPoker did respond in the forum thread, with site representative Colette Steward noting that “our final week’s GTEs (guarantees) were based on us running alongside the final week of WCOOP and rather than cancel the 3rd week we decided to run the full schedule with a relatively small amount of amended tournaments.”

There seemed to be frustration among some players but within a relatively small group of players who pre-registered for events. And while PartyPoker has not addressed the concerns with a public statement, its customer service representatives have been active on the forum thread and on social media to mitigate the damage to its signature Powerfest series.

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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