888 Holdings plc, the London-quoted owner of Pacific Poker, has struck a poker league deal with Georgica plc, the owner of Rileys, which is the UK's largest chain of snooker, pool and poker clubs.
The arrangement between the parties amounts to a co-operation agreement whereby 888 will use its online poker capabilities to support Rileys' website and clubs throughout the UK.
The deal is initially to run for three years during which time 888 and Rileys will work together to develop the www.rileyspoker.com website, which will be powered by 888.com. 888's poker site will be promoted by Rileys in their clubs, to their 525,000 members and externally in new club member recruitment.
Under the terms of this poker-related deal, 888 and Rileys will develop a series of online and offline attractions including poker league tables, regional events and a televised national poker tournament. This is claimed to be the first combined online and offline poker offering of its kind in the UK.
Georgica has already begun holding live poker tournaments in its Rileys snooker and pool members clubs, and hopes to have live poker operating in around a hundred of its clubs by Easter. In addition to its online support, 888 will provide assistance and technical support for the roll out and running of these live, face-to-face poker tournaments.
There are already common themes in play between 888.com and Georgica, centring around snooker. 888.com is the principal sponsor of the 888.com World Snooker Championship as well as the leading players, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Ding Junhui, while Rileys runs the UK's leading chain of snooker and pool clubs.
With snooker players being amongst the highest profile poker-playing celebrities in the UK, this appears to be a sensible strategy for both parties given the growing trend and relaxation in laws in social poker.
Gigi Levy, the Chief Executive Officer of 888 Holdings plc said:
"This is a hugely exciting and ground-breaking partnership for 888 which allows us to offer a unique poker proposition to the gaming market. 888 and Rileys customers will have access to a multitude of innovative gaming alternatives unparalleled in the offline and online poker world, where customers are able to be part of a community of poker players that meet to play live poker both online and offline."
Peter Haspel, Managing Director of Georgica plc commented:
"Our move to provide both live and online poker tournaments to the members of Rileys clubs represents an exciting opportunity for Georgica as part of its continued strategy to grow and expand the Rileys business. The agreement with 888 for the provision of online poker and assistance with the roll out of live poker gives Rileys access to the wealth of experience that 888 have in both online and offline poker and online marketing."