The online gaming arm of US casino giant Caesars is all set to launch a World Series of Poker-branded website in Nevada next year after it received provisional approval from the Gaming Control Board.
Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE), headed by former PartyGaming chief Mitch Garber, received its licence to provide real-money intrastate online poker to players within Nevada borders from the Nevada Gaming Commission yesterday.
As in the UK, WSOP owner Caesars Interactive intends to run the website, operated under arguably the world’s most recognisable poker brand, on 888’s poker software.
888, which received approval to partner with Caesars from the Commission last year, has applied for an interactive service provider licence, which it expects to receive in the Spring.
The Nevada Gaming Commission has now issued 17 interactive gaming licences to operators and service providers, since Bally Technologies narrowly beat rival IGT to receiving the first permit in June of this year.
CIE’s chief financial officer Tony Alamo Jr told the Commission that he estimated the legal online poker market in the US could be worth between US$3bn and US$6bn a year, but that “[u[nfortunately, it’s locked up”, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
CIE’s heavily indebted parent company has been one of the largest spenders on lobbying for a federal online poker solution in recent years. The company sold an undisclosed share of CIE to US land-based casino group Rock Gaming for an initial US$60.8m in April of this year. Social gaming business Playtika, which operates the Slotomania brand of Facebook slots, also forms part of CIE.
Also in the US yesterday, New Jersey legislators’ bill to enable Atlantic City’s ailing land-based casinos to offer online versions of their games online reached Governor Chris Christie’s desk in search of his signature for a third time.
The bill, passed by the Senate by a 33-3 majority vote, is an amended version of the bill Christie vetoed in March of last year, citing concerns over its potential to expand gambling outside of Atlantic City in breach of the state constitution, and a clause dedicating a share of the spoils to supporting the Garden State’s ailing horse racing industry.
Bill sponsors Raymond Lesniak and Jim Whelan have said the Governor’s various concerns with the original bill have been redressed, but are leaning on a legal opinion by an academic that gambling transactions would not breach the constitution as long as they are completed on servers located in Atlantic City.
Christie has 45 days to either sign the bill into law, veto the proposals or simply do nothing, after which time the bill would automatically become law.
Lesniak and Whelan also added language that would enable PokerStars, recently linked with a US$40m takeover of the Atlantic Club casino in New Jersey, to seek regulatory approval for the transaction.
Article written by Stephen Carter