Bwin Launches Poker in Italy

20 October 2008

Now that Italian law permits tournament-style online poker, Bwin Interactive Entertainment A.G. has officially entered the country’s poker market. The Vienna operator officially added online poker to its Italian Web site yesterday.

Bwin’s Italian poker offering uses a debut system called the P5 Poker Engine, developed by Ongame Network Ltd., a business-to-business solutions provider Bwin acquired in December 2005.

“We have high expectations,” Kevin O’Neal, Bwin’s press officer, told IGamingNews via telephone this morning. “We expect poker to be very popular in the Italian market -- especially since it’s being launched on the newly developed P5 Poker Engine.”

According to a prepared statement, this engine will “dramatically improve” the poker platform’s performance and allows up to 200,000 users to play simultaneously.

In the statement, Norbert Teufelberger, co-chief executive of Bwin, called P5 a “substantial investment.”

“We decided to go to the very heart of our game engine and rethink every line of code -- and re-write it if necessary,” he added. “P5 represents a shift in mentality as much as it represents a shift in technology.”

Mr. O’Neal didn’t have information at this time as to when the company will launch real-money tournament-style play. He also could not comment on other negotiations in which Bwin is involved.

Bwin follows Playtech Ltd. and Boss Media A.B. into the Italian poker market -- 60 percent of which is controlled by Playtech, according to research from Numis Securities. Gaming VC Holdings, the Luxembourg online operator, has also told IGN it plans to launch an Italian poker offering later this year, and PokerStars last week launched its Italy-facing site.

Jeanette Kozlowski is a staff writer for IGamingNews and manager of Clarion Gaming's Gaming Industry Media portal. She lives in Kirkwood, Mo.