South Point Casino to Launch Free Online Poker Room



According to a report by GamingToday.com, Michael Gaughan, owner of the South Point Hotel, Casino, and Spa in Las Vegas, has announced that he will be launching a free-to-play online poker site, likely to be named after his casino.  The site, which will be on the ZEN Entertainment Network, should open for business within the “next couple weeks.”

Gaughan follows in the footsteps of 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Jamie Gold, who recently opened his own room, FreeGoldPoker.com, on that same ZEN Entertainment Network.  The games on the ZEN sites are completely free to play even though they offer real cash and prizes; there is not even a monthly membership fee like some legal internet poker rooms.  The sites are supported by sponsorships and advertising revenue.

ZEN goes back to 2006, when the National League of Poker (NLOP) and NLOP.com were created.  ZEN bought NLOP.com in 2008 and has grown it ever since, partnering with such names as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and NBCSports.com, each of whom has a sit on the network.  Last year, ZEN purchased the struggling SpadeClub.com, CardPlayer magazine’s subscription-based online poker room, and has developed CardPlayerPoker.com.

“This is an experiment for me,” Gaughan told GamingToday. “I’m just getting my feet wet but I expect that down the line I am going to be applying for an intrastate license.”

In August, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has released its first draft of regulations for intrastate “interactive gaming,” laying out, among other things, the licensing rules for when the federal government either completely legalizes online gaming (or just poker) or gives the states the go-ahead to get intrastate sites up and running.  Gaughan would likely be one of the first to be granted a license, as the regulations favor companies that already have a strong brick and mortar presence in the state.

Gaughan began his gaming career in 1965 when he became an owner and casino manager of the El Cortez Hotel.  That role ended when he opened the Royal Inn Casino in 1972, which has since gone through several ownership changes and is now the Clarion Hotel and Casino.  After selling the Royal Inn, Gaughan founded Coast Casinos, Inc., starting with the building of its flagship property, the Barbary Coast Hotel.  Over the next couple decades, he followed that up with the Gold Coast Hotel, the Saint Louis Casino Queen Riverboat, the Orleans Hotel, the Suncoast Hotel, and the South Coast Hotel and Casino, which opened in 2005.  Coast Casinos was purchased by Boyd Gaming in 2004 and Gaughan took sole ownership of South Coast in 2006, changing its name to South Point.

South Point, while not a big name like the Bellagio or Caesars, has had its share of the spotlight over the last few years, as it has served as the host venue for both Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker.  It has also been the host site for the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon since 2006.

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