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PokerStars Q&A: Hello FTP, Goodbye Viktor Blom (For Now)
It seems that nothing can bring industry giant PokerStars down these days.
The “World’s Biggest Online Poker Room” just ran another edition of its hugely successful WCOOP, the European Poker Tour is in full swing and this week the company even acquired a stake in London’s Hippodrome Casino meaning there could potentially be a live PokerStars poker room in the future.
This November marks a dramatic shift for PokerStars, however.
The company’s biggest competitor – Full Tilt Poker – will return, under very different circumstances than when the lights went out in 2011.
For the first time ever, PokerStars will be competing with itself, thanks to parent company Rational Enterprises reaching a deal to acquire FTP earlier this year.
Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker took the time to answer a number of questions about what the future holds for PokerStars.
PokerListings.com: What’s changed at the PokerStars office since the Full Tilt acquisition and the settlement with the U.S. DOJ?
Eric Hollreiser: Our offices are as busy as ever. Obviously we were all very excited and proud when the settlement was completed.
PL.com: How long was that deal in the works?
I can’t get into any specifics, but suffice to say that this was a very complex, perhaps unprecedented event. As such, it didn’t happen over-night.
PL.com: When Full Tilt Poker launches on Nov. 6, won’t PokerStars essentially be competing against itself?
There’s obviously plenty of room for competition in online poker. We know that many players enjoy playing on more than one site. We believe that offering a choice of high-quality, trusted brands promoting poker and innovating on the game will help to grow the overall poker market. Having a multi-brand portfolio is common in many industries from automakers to restaurants to media companies to gaming.
PL.com: It seemed very important to the company that PokerStars did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. Can you talk a little bit about why that was such a big deal to PokerStars?
PokerStars has always acted responsibly and within the law and we’ve made decisions based upon the legal advice we have been receiving. So naturally it was important for us that we did not admit to any wrongdoing.
We chose to settle because wanted to get this behind us, move on and focus on expanding our business without constraint and without distraction. The alternative was to engage in multi-year litigation which we felt was not the best option.
PL.com: The corporate blog is an interesting idea for an online poker site. How much are you allowed to share on it?
As much as I can get time to update it. The corporate blog is a good platform for us to share news, information and perspectives in an immediate way and the industry has been very appreciative of our openness. It’s still evolving and finding the appropriate voice and subject matter.
PL.com: Viktor Blom’s departure from PokerStars seemed sudden. Would the company ever have him on the team again?
Viktor is a great guy and an exciting player. I’m sure our paths will continue to cross in the future, so who knows?
PL.com: There has been speculation the U.S. government will just reimburse U.S. FTP players’ original deposit, not winnings. Can PokerStars comment on this at all?
I really do not have any visibility into the remission process being conducted by the U.S. Government.