Playtech is making a move to protect the major operators on its iPoker Network. The company will beginning assessing quality metrics on the approximately 40 skins on the network on July 1 to determine which sites will be grouped together for a September 1 network split.

Online poker rooms on the iPoker Network will need to meet sustain a minimum of 6,000 active monthly players each generating a minimum of $1 in rake as well as acquire 850 new active accounts each month that generate $5 in rake or more in order to be placed in the top-tier of the split network.

The network split is viewed as a way to protect the “big four” operators at iPoker, William Hill, bet365, Titan and Paddy Power, from rakeback marketing efforts of smaller skins that damage the poker ecology. These four rooms are thought to generate roughly 80% of Playtech’s revenues from iPoker.

Certain middle-tier sites on the network are viewed as having the potential to land on either side of the split. Poker770, Genting, and Expekt (who have recently agitated affiliates) are among those whose fate in the iPoker Network split remains uncertain.

Many smaller sites on iPoker are expected to face operational struggles when relegated to the bottom-tier network. With a small overall player pool consisting of many sharky players recruited on rakeback deals, it will be interesting to see if the smaller sites can band together to salvage their operations. OneWayPoker, BlueSquare, and LittlewoodsPoker are a few of several smaller sites viewed as unlikely to meet the tough requirements needed to qualify for admission into the top-tier network.

Despite what is by all appearances a smart move by the company, shares of Playtech Limited (PTEC.L) have remained mostly flat in the time since this network split was confirmed.

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