Swedish online gaming operator Unibet has announced plans to move to a standalone online poker product early next year, which has been developed exclusively for its Unibet and Maria brands by Estonian based supplier Relax Gaming.

The company said that it decided on the move as the “next step in developing their customer experience.”

The software is being developed exclusively for the Unibet and Maria brands by supplier Relax Gaming. In connection with this, Unibet is also investing €1.25m for a share in the company.

Unibet said that it has been closely involved in key functionality and design to cater for its new poker strategy.

“The environment in the online poker industry has changed over the years and we have come to the insight that being part of a poker network is not sustainable for Unibet in the long term,” said Unibet’s head of gaming Daniel Eskola. “This project has given us the possibility to start from a blank piece of paper and define everything we believe is important for a fun poker experience.

“In a way, our goal is to bring the fun back to poker by creating software with a clear focus on the casual player.”

Unibet and Maria will be the sole operators offering the new product after previously being part of a network of multiple operators through the Microgaming Poker Network.

”Our relationship with Microgaming remains strong, and we are continuing to offer Quickfire games in our casino,” added Eskola.

In its most recent results for the third quarter of 2013, online poker was the only product to post a year-on-year decline with gross winnings revenue falling 26 per cent to £2.5m. The product accounted for just 4 per cent of the company’s total revenue during the quarter.

Unibet said that the new software will include a user friendly table selection, rich 3D backgrounds, the ability to change avatar and screen name, as well as gameplay features such as achievements and missions.

Unibet Poker will be available for PC and Mac download, browser, and tablet versions for both iOS and Android.

Shares in Unibet Group plc (Co. Data) (OMX:UNIB) are currently trading down marginally 0.32 per cent at SEK311.00 as at 11:36 CET in Stockholm this morning.

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