PokerNews.com, one of the longest tenured poker news sites in the industry, admitted yesterday what was really a poorly-kept secret: it is owned by PokerStars. The revelation, which was surprising in that iBus Media – PokerNews’ corporate name – pretended like nobody really knew, was made during an internal conference call and then posted as a written article by iBus Media’s Head of Poker Content Joss Wood on Monday.
The announcement came in the context of management relaying a new acquisition strategy because of “significant increases in both revenue and headcount.”
Thus, the higher-ups felt it was time to clue its employees in on who owns PokerNews. Somehow, the staff didn’t know, but according to PocketFives President and Editor-in-Chief Lance Bradley (via tweet), employees had been told for a long time that the rumors were “BS,” so maybe that’s why.
As Wood explained in the call/article, Antanas “Tony G” Guoga created iBus Media 15 years ago and in 2010 began selling off his stake in the company to The Stars Group, which now owns a majority position in the business.
From there, the statement tried to minimize the importance of PokerStars’ ownership, saying:
iBus Media has always maintained an arms-length relationship with the Stars Group and there will be no change in the way the business is managed moving forward.
To put the commercial relationship into context, PokerStars and its associated brands currently represent less than 5% of iBus’s affiliate revenues.
iBus Media Director Jon Squires also looked to deflect:
iBus has always maintained its independence and will continue to do so. PokerNews will continue to be the voice of players and a promoter of online poker.
This is an exciting time at iBus as we are growing the range and quality of the services that we offer our igaming partners. Several recent hires have brought increased depth to our management team and we are extremely optimistic about the group’s ability to continue its growth trajectory.
We shall continue to work as hard as we always have to provide both players and clients with the best experience, as we shall continue to grow high value services for the igaming sector.
You may sense a tinge of eye roll in my text, but really, PokerNews does good work overall and has represented the poker world well in its decade and a half existence (it’s not like I’m sitting here breaking hard-hitting news day in and day out). It’s just that its reporting is often PokerStars-centric, with occasional pieces not being news so much as Stars fluff. And I’m not even saying that’s wrong – we all need to pay the bills – it’s more that it’s funny that the company has finally come out and admitted that PokerStars owns it after everyone knew that Stars at the very least had an influential role in the site.
Where PokerNews really shines is in its live tournament reporting, which I have relied on for many tournament articles. Live tournament reporting is not easy and PokerNews has helped tons of poker fans follow the major events. Even that reporting, though, tends to focus on PokerStars players, particularly early on in the tournaments, before the emphasis has to be on the chip leaders.
So now we know that The Stars Group owns PokerNews and it is probably better that we do. As long as the reporting is quality, that’s really all that matters.