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Nevada Casinos Take Giant Step Toward Online Poker
A Look At Which Brick-And-Mortar Companies Have Expressed Interest
Nevada legalized web poker in June 2011 and adopted the rules for the industry in December 2011, all of which provided casino companies the sole power operate poker sites.
The Silver State business landscape is dominated by its longstanding gambling industry, which lawmakers and regulators wanted to protect as gaming reaches a new frontier. It likely didn’t hurt that the major offshore poker sites were booted from American cyberspace a couple months before Nevada’s governor signed the “interactive gaming” bill.
Some decided to develop their own software, while others wanted to partner with “service providers” in order to run the games. An existing foreign-based online poker site, for example, could come into Nevada and seek licenses to provide the platform to a brick-and-mortar. Some have already done so and could one day provide access to a global player pool.
The year 2012 didn’t see dreams of a federal online poker bill amount to anything more than sand from the Mojave Desert, but while efforts on Capitol Hill have been fruitless, Nevada regulators saw many of its casino firms apply for permission to run poker sites. Some have already been licensed, while others will have their hearings sometime in 2013.
Not every Nevada casino company has definitive plans to offer real-money poker. Some are targeting free-play web gaming in order to bring more customers to their properties. Given Nevada’s small population, there isn’t a whole lot of room in the market for many real-money sites. In this sense, some casinos are just getting things in place for what 2013 and beyond could bring in terms of web poker liquidity. Other states are expected to legalize next year, and if the feds don’t act, many think that state compacts will eventually form.
While nothing materialized from the noise that Nevada’s first real-money site could flip on the switch this fall, 2012 was a very productive year for the upcoming industry.
Here’s a look at all the casino companies that declared an interest in web gaming.
Gaughan Straight Holdings, Inc.
After deciding to go the route of developing its own real-money poker software, South Point Hotel and Casino has been hoping for quite some time to be the first online poker site up and running legally within the Silver State. It was the first ever to be licensed for the activity.
Despite being ready right now to open its doors, South Point has been slowed by Nevada regulators wanting to be extremely cautious. Technology testing is still ongoing. There is no official timetable for when South Point will go online or whether it will still be first to the market. South Point had targeted October as a launch time.
Caesars Entertainment Corp.
The company owns many Las Vegas properties, including Caesars Palace, Bally’s Las Vegas, Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon (set to be renamed), Flamingo Las Vegas, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, The Quad and Rio. It also owns Harveys Lake Tahoe in Stateline, NV.
Caesars has the World Series of Poker in its portfolio, and could leverage that, along with a partnership with existing online poker site 888, to be a dominant player in Nevada intrastate web poker and eventually across the United States.
It received a license from regulators in 2012.
Station Casinos, LLC
The company is one of the dominant players in the locals market. It has a large stake in many Silver State gaming properties: Boulder Station, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station, Red Rock Casino, Santa Fe Station, Sunset Station, Texas Station, Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho, Barley’s, The Greens Gaming & Dining, Wildfire Rancho, Wildfire Sunset, Wildfire Boulder, Wildfire Casino and Lanes and Wild Wild West.
Fertitta Entertainment, the parent company of Station Casinos, has a subsidiary that has put together the online gaming platform needed to run poker.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is also under this umbrella of ownership and will be leveraged to attract players into the online gambling realm.
A subsidiary of the firm snagged a license already.
MGM Resorts International
The firm is the Strip’s largest casino company in terms of number of properties. On Las Vegas Blvd. it owns Aria, Bellagio, The Mirage, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand Las Vegas, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Excalibur, Circus Circus and Slots-A-Fun Casino.
Elsewhere in Nevada the company owns Circus Circus Reno, Silver Legacy Resort Casino, Railroad Pass Casino and Gold Strike Hotel and Gambling Hall.
MGM has a license and is waiting on Bwin to be approved.
Led by famous Las Vegas casino boss Steve Wynn, Wynn Resorts is one of the highest grossing gaming companies in the world. It has owns two Nevada properties, Wynn and Encore, although it seems only the Wynn would get branded as an online poker site.
Wynn Resorts had a “strategy partnership” with PokerStars prior to Black Friday in April 2011, but that deal dissolved. It’s unclear who the next partner could be, although there have been rumors of a possible Zynga deal.
Boyd Gaming Corp.
The company controls Downtown Las Vegas properties, including California Hotel and Casino, Fremont Hotel and Casino and Main Street Station. Elsewhere in Nevada it has Eldorado Casino, Gold Coast, Jokers Wild Casino, Orleans Hotel and Casino, Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall and Suncoast Hotel and Casino.
Boyd Gaming will team up with MGM and Bwin.Party for online poker games.
The firm has a license already.
American Casino & Entertainment Properties, LLC
ACEP owns four properties in southern Nevada: Stratosphere Hotel Casino and Tower, Arizona Charlie’s Decatur, Arizona Charlie’s Boulder and the Aquarius Casino Resort.
The company is eying a free-play site to start with, rather than diving into real money.
It has already received a license from Nevada regulators.
Golden Gaming, Inc.
The firm has a few casinos in Nevada, but is perhaps better known for its PT’s Tavern chain, which have gaming devices on location. Golden Gaming will enter the online business through its subsidiary Sartini Synergy Online, LLC.
Could bars across the state become online poker parlors?
Vintage Vegas Gaming, LLC
The company that owns Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel in Downtown Las Vegas, birthplace of the World Series of Poker, wants in on the future of gambling. Despite the history that still exits on its gaming floor, Binion’s won’t have the WSOP brand for an online site.
It lost ownership of the WSOP in 2004.
Treasure Island, LLC
The casino is owned by real-estate developer and high-stakes poker player Phil Ruffin. He bought it from MGM in 2009.
It’s unclear if the casino will develop its own software or use something from another firm.
Monarch Casino and Resort, Inc.
The casino company owns the Atlantis in Reno, NV, which is one of the city’s largest.
On its website, the firm said that it’s “currently seeking additional strategic growth opportunities.” Online gaming could be one of them, and it received a license in 2012.
Golden Nugget, Inc.
The firm operates one of Las Vegas’ oldest casinos in the Golden Nugget. The casino, once the home of the popular TV show High Stakes Poker, has already developed a free-play poker site and looks to be one of the early ones to the real-money show.
It already has a license.
Brookfield Asset Management, Inc.
Through its subsidiaries LVHR Casino, LLC and BREF Interactive Gaming, LLC, the real estate investment firm will get in on online gaming in some capacity. Its Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is its only Nevada property.
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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