Online Poker Expansion
Nevada’s 14-month-old online poker industry has seen rather tepid results to date. Since the first website launched in April 2013, Nevada’s three online poker websites—WSOP.com, Station Casinos’ Ultimate Poker and the South Point’s Real Gaming—have generated about $921,000 per month, reported the Casino City Times.
Now the Nevada Gaming Control Board has tentatively approved a plan that may boost the online poker industry by allow competing sites to work together in a single network.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the plan, proposed by Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings, would have the World Series of Poker website partner with a Treasure Island poker room operated by 888, and possibly other online poker rooms. That could increase interaction among players and increase the pool itself, said 888 attorney Yehoshua Gurtler. “For Nevada, a network provides more gaming taxes due to greater product attractiveness and player participation.”
Participation is key, reported Poker News Daily. “Gamblers can be perfectly happy playing blackjack at a table by themselves,” according to the publication. “But in poker, people need other people against whom to play. You can’t have a smattering of players here and a smattering there. You need volume. And low traffic just leads to lower traffic. If a poker rooms is sparsely populated, it just looks that much worse to a prospective player, so new customers don’t sign up. And current customers eventually get sick of not being able to find a game, so they leave.”
Regulators said the technology, operated by 888, could be the model for a planned system that would run the shared online gaming network between Nevada and Delaware, reported the Times. In February, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed the nation’s first multistate internet gaming agreement, which will allow players in both states to play online poker against each other over a shared platform. 888 Holdings is expected to create the platform.
The individual companies would still compete with each other; 888’s technology would track revenues to individual players and back to the rooms at which they signed up. But traffic could be livelier at single, larger network.
“Everyone here has been working hard to make the agreement with Delaware a reality,” Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said after the panel voted unanimously in favor of the 888-Caesars-Treasure Island proposal. The Nevada Gaming Commission will rule on the matter on July 24.
A Union Gaming report described the move as “a positive development and an interesting twist to a market segment which operators have struggled to get off the ground since the market’s first entrant in April 2013. …Proponents suggest that the platform would be scalable to potentially allow additional operators to join and thereby expand the network.”