Nevada Internet Poker The Gateway To Gambling On Video Games, Says Gaming Executive
Reno-Based 3G Studios OK With Losing Money On Card Playing
Nevada-based gaming company 3G Studios wants to bring real-money betting to the U.S. video game market. The firm is a developer of the popular PlayStation 3 version of “Rock Band” and wants web gambling on it, as well as first-person shooters like “Call of Duty”, in the future, the company’s CEO and founder James Kosta told Card Player.
The company’s gateway to such gambling? Internet poker.
Real-money Internet gaming has been authorized in Nevada, but only poker for the time being. 3G Studios has applied for a web poker license to get out in front of this new industry.
For poker, 3G wants to target the more casual customer. The firm just inked a deal with land-based operator Eldorado Resorts, which owns casinos in Reno. In Nevada, technology firms eying Internet gaming are required to have a brick-and-mortar alliance.
In addition to that partnership, 3G will rely on another technology firm that has an established “back-end” for web poker. In other words, 3G needs a poker server. It hasn’t acquired one yet, but talks are ongoing. 3G’s contribution to the final product would be on the front-end.
Kosta said his company hopes to give poker a “visually spectacular presentation.”
In addition to aesthetics, 3G wants to add some animated violence to the game. The company is planning a product called “Outlaw Poker” — which could allow players to witness their characters duel it out with pistols after contesting a split pot.
“We are starting to bring traditional video game elements into something as tried and true as poker mechanics,” he said. Before doing so, Nevada regulators would have to OK it.
Since 3G is targeting those who prefer to play for shorter periods of time and tend to play micro-stakes, the poker-only business is not sustainable, according to Kosta.
“If it stopped at poker it would be a flawed business model,” Kosta admitted. “Ultimately, if we break even on poker we would be quite happy. Even if we’re losing money with poker, our goal would be to continue to push legislation forward so that we can introduce other games.”
3G’s plans for web gambling on games like Rock Band, as well as slots and real-life sporting events, will take some time and leave poker as the only option for awhile. Kosta said that Internet poker could be aided by a 10-state partnership, with Nevada at the helm. He said “negotiations” are ongoing between state legislators for such a mammoth deal.
“If we can successfully regulate and operate here in Nevada, under the laws, then we should be able to convince other states to allow us to move in,” he said.
According to Kosta, other revenue-starved states wouldn’t want to be burdened by drafting their own web poker rules and licensing firms (many that would already have a Nevada license).
For firms like 3G to have access to other states, Kosta said Nevada could “vouch” for them.
Many in the industry don’t think Nevada’s resident and tourism numbers are large enough to make online poker a cash cow. Thus, in the absence of a federal regime, a state-by-state patchwork would help. The catch: Many other states have failed at legalization.
Kosta believes more than a dozen states will pass bills in 2013, with Nevada’s regulators essentially calling the shots under a compact. Kosta added that he prefers a state-by-state model and doesn’t think a federal online poker bill will pass this year or in 2013.
Regardless of where the legalization efforts are, it’s not about poker for 3G.
“Poker is the low-hanging fruit for everybody,” said Kosta, who called Zynga his company’s largest competitor. Zynga hasn’t applied for a license in Nevada.
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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