Two companies that have been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons have captured the attention of the press for something less dubious. It has been announced that Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker, both caught up in the recent superuser scandals, will be merging to form a brand new poker network: CEREUS

The front end programs will remain – players retaining the choice between different styles of software – however players, tournaments and promotions will become shared. The changes will come into effect in August.

The merger seems a lot less surprising when you consider that both companies are subsidiaries of Tokwiro Enterprises, the private company which owns both rooms. The advent of CEREUS is reportedly the work of over a year’s worth of planning, and although Paul Legget (COO of both Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet) promises “significantly better value and service”, no details have been announced beyond “more players, more action, more tournaments, incredible new features and massive promotions.”

The two sites are already inextricably linked in the minds of many a poker player due to the cheating scandals that have blighted both companies over the last year. This announcement may well have been timed to deflect media attention away from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s impending announcement concerning the punishment of Ultimate Bet.

Despite the near constant assaults on their integrity player numbers for both sites seem to have been largely unaffected. Such positive figures may have lead to the press release’s claim that the merger will create the 3rd largest poker network in the world. This is disputed by a number of observers who still put both UB and AP combined well behind current the current 3rd place, iPoker.

The move has been seen by some as a precursor to re-branding, an option that has no doubt been discussed at the highest level. Any attempt to distant themselves from their current irreparably tarnished corporate identities may well be a smart one – it will be a long time before the names ‘Absolute Poker’ or ‘Ultimate Bet’ shed their cheating connotations. However, given that both titles are reported to remain intact following the creation of CEREUS, a re-branding seems unlikely in the short term.

For the full CEREUS network press release click here.