Joining an ever-growing list of companies eager to begin operating online poker games in the soon-to-be regulated Nevada market are Treasure Island and Hard Rock, both of which applied for licenses last week. So far, over a dozen entities have been green-lighted by the state. CBS News reported last week that three other companies, MGM Online LLC, as well as smaller outfits Z4Poker LLC of Las Vegas and Cams LLC of Los Angeles, were granted licenses to operate within the state.
While the timeline for rolling out online poker games to Nevada residents remains unclear, it is likely that the first games will go live during the month of December or early in 2013, with “locals-only” casino South Point racing to be the first to launch in the newly regulated market. Poker Fuse reported last month that South Point has shuttered its play-money online poker site in anticipation of opening its real-money online poker site, however the same post noted that due to delays in testing and developing its software, the company may not be able to enjoy having the market to itself as first anticipated, with three or four rooms poised to enter the market during the same timeframe.
Among the companies that have already been approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board are Fertitta Interactive, Golden Nugget, and Boyd Gaming, which were approved just last month, in addition to previously approved companies International Game Technology, Bally Technologies, Shuffle Master, Monarch Interactive, Global Cash Access, American Casino & Entertainment Properties, WMS Gaming, and the aforementioned South Point Poker. What we’re not seeing yet are major international operators like bet365 or PartyPoker getting into the Nevada game.
When the Nevada online poker market is up and running, it will be the first state to have successfully regulated the game, though a handful of others are looking into offering a legalized form of online poker to their residents. Illinois, Delaware, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Mississippi, and New Jersey have all explored regulating online poker, in part as a means of introducing revenue into cash-strapped state budgets, which are still reeling from effects of the recession and the collapse of the housing market.
At the Federal level, the future of online poker remains cloaked in uncertainty, with many in the online poker community closely monitoring the current lame duck Congressional session with hopes that the Reid/Kyl Bill will be passed. With the bill still in draft form and facing opposition from anti-gambling Republican lawmakers, its future, and the future of online poker in much of the United States, is up in the air.