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William Hill to Launch Poker Service in Italy

Gaming powerhouse William Hill is set to have a greater involvement in Italy, with the company announcing it will add poker to its .it service in the near future.

The company is expected to join Playtech’s Italian-facing network as it aims to boost its presence in the southern European country’s online gaming market. According to Playtech, William Hill will be one of a number of “known names” that will join its network before the end of this year.

Playtech also said that William Hill’s Italian poker service should be launched “in the coming weeks”, which should help boost its and the iPoker network’s presence in the Italian market. The iPoker network is currently the fourth largest poker operator in Italy in terms of poker traffic. According to PokerScout, iPoker’s Italian operations currently have a seven day average of 480 players, which puts it in the top 20 global poker sites.

PeoplesNetwork is slightly ahead of, with a seven day average of 485 players, which gives it a very slight lead over iPoker in the Italian online poker market. Ongame’s Italian domain is also in the same ball park as the two other sites, with a seven day average of 495 players according to PokerScout.

Figures at iPoker and Playtech are now hoping that the future launch of William Hill’s poker offering in Italy will give the network the push it needs to leapfrog the other two aforementioned networks in the country. That would make it the second largest operator in the Italian market, something that could be easily doable given the long established and well-known nature of the William Hill brand.

What will be more difficult, and essentially impossible, for iPoker is to have the biggest .it poker network. That accolade goes to none other than PokerStars, which has a stranglehold on the Italian online poker market with a current seven day average of 1720 players. That number is larger than the online poker traffic of the other previously mentioned poker networks combined.

While William Hill’s future online poker launch will likely result in increased traffic for the .it poker network, it is unlikely that it will make much of a dent in PokerStars domination in Italy. It will, however, further establish the company in the country, something which it has been working on in recent years. The poker offering will be one of a number games already offered by William Hill in Italy; it already offers bingo, casino games and sports betting on its Italian web site.

The decision for William Hill to offer another poker service is a bold move by the company, however, due to the fact that poker revenues for its online divisions declined in the first quarter of 2013.

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