3 casino operators get initial approval for online poker within Nevada

Three more Nevada casino operators received initial approval today to offer online intrastate poker.

The state Gaming Control Board recommended licensure for online subsidiaries of Boyd Gaming Corp., for Station Casinos and the founding Fertitta family’s Ultimate Poker brand, and for the Golden Nugget with casinos in Las Vegas and Laughlin.

The Nevada Gaming Commission may consider the three licensure recommendations during its meeting Oct. 18.

Executives with the applicants today stressed the economic development benefits of online poker and related social gaming offerings.

“Online poker is the new frontier of gaming,” said Ultimate Gaming (parent of Ultimate Poker) Chairman Tom Breitling.

The Station/Fertitta online group said it intends to expand employment in Las Vegas from 26 jobs now to about 100 next year, while the Boyd team intends to grow from a handful of people now to 20 or 30 people.

Boyd executives said they expect the launch of online intrastate poker to double Nevada’s poker market from the current $132 million taken in annually at poker tables in casinos.

The Golden Nugget site will be operated with a Bally Technologies Inc. system. It could eventually be linked to the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City should online poker be approved in New Jersey.

Golden Nugget executives say they already have a database of 16,000 names of potential online poker players, thanks to a play-for-fun site that has been operating in advance of real-money online play.

Online intrastate poker in Nevada is expected to launch later this year or in early 2013 after final technical and regulatory approvals.

The poker is not video poker but rather competitive play among live players.

Nevada online poker licenses were issued earlier this summer and fall by the Gaming Commission to South Point Poker LLC, Global Cash Access Holdings Inc., Bally Technologies, SHFL entertainment Inc. (formerly Shuffle Master Inc.), American Casino & Entertainment Properties LLC,  and PokerTrip Enterprises Inc., all of Las Vegas; International Game Technology and Monarch Interactive Inc., both of Reno; and to WMS Industries Inc. of Waukegan, Ill.

Today’s Gaming Control Board actions involved just two board members, as a replacement has not been named for former Chairman Mark Lipparelli, who stepped down last month.