The online poker bill hasn’t yet been finalized, but news is that casino operators in Northern Nevada are gearing up for offering online poker to their patrons, starting late 2013. Many operators in the region have already applied for the operator’s license, according to the Nevada Gaming Board’s commissioner, AG Burnett. Burnett said that the number of applications for licenses is significantly large, in spite of the fact that the regulations of how the whole process is going to function have not been finalized yet. Among the early birds who had their licenses approved include gaming service operators IGT and Bally.
Several casino operators in Nevada are either collaborating with gaming operators like IGT, Bally etc. who already have the license in place, or are developing in-house software to stay in the race.
Everyone needs a license
Different licenses are given for different operators, according to Burnett. There are interactive licenses and then there are gaming licenses. Also, licenses are must for both the operators of the interactive gaming sites, as well as those who develop the interactive gaming sites. Companies and individuals who wish to make products for the interactive website also need to obtain a license from the gaming association.
Casinos looking for potential partners
While IGT and Bally have been the first gaming operators to get licenses in Nevada, Eldorado, Atlantis and Siena are among the casinos in the region to be offering online poker first. These casino hotels in Las Vegas have been busy trying to find potential partners to offer online poker to their customers in Nevada.
Eldorado Hotel is already into a joint venture with Reno’s 3G studios for launching its online gambling venture in the state. The partnership took form back in September 2012, and became the first ever partnership between a land-based casino and a game developer in the USA.
The executive director of the Monarch Casino and Resort, the parent company that operates the Atlantis in Vegas, said that the company had been investigating potential gaming partners, to push their plans for offering online poker in the state. The ED, David Farahi was noted saying that the company was specifically looking for technology providers for development of software and for management of the poker site’s back-end operations. Farahi also stated that they were doing all they can to find the right partners, and as they learn things through the investigation, they are amending their plans about how they need to function in the industry.
Farahi also stated that the new poker website that they launch would be closely related to the existing Atlantis website. This, he said, is their attempt to connect with their customer base in Northern Nevada and strengthen their relationship. He also said that the tech team would be working on using geo-compliance software to ensure that only those in Nevada can access their site, as per the regulation.
David Colvin, the majority owner in Siena Hotel Casino, said that they are hoping to launch their online poker site sometime towards the end of 2013. The casino has also created a company called Z4 Poker, which is responsible for handling all the online gambling related processes of the company. Almost 20 employees from Z4 Poker and 20 other members from Gaming Arts, the bingo and keno gaming arm of Siena, are working on the project consistently. Colvin also started that they hope to launch the free-play poker site sometime earlier, probably in Q2 of 2013. This will make transformation to the real money site easier once online poker is completely legalized in the state.
Ensuring strict compliance
Burnett added that the Nevada Gaming Association staff is doing all that is needed to ensure strict compliance to the regulations, considering that the state is in the forefront of the emerging online gambling industry in the US. The board is apparently testing and reviewing the competing software to ensure that they meet the standards. Only after the testing process is complete, online casino operators will be able to set up and run their sites.
Tech companies may have the software and equipment, but they cannot by themselves start and operate the online poker sites. For this, they may have to depend on casino sites like Atlantis, Siena or Eldorado as they already have the financials and the regulatory processes like auditing, compliance etc. in place for their land-based casinos.