Nevada-based free-to-play poker and casino sites, acePLAYPoker.com and acePLAYCasino.com, have announced that they will be closing in less than a month. Yes, there were play money gambling sites in Nevada unrelated to WSOP.com.
In a blog post, the farewell message was penned:
It is with a heavy heart we are announcing that acePLAY Casino will be shutting down Wednesday November 22nd. Our parent company was recently acquired, but unfortunately we will not be coming along for the ride. We have sincerely appreciated our loyal players over the past 2 years and you will be greatly missed. We thank you for your support.
I know nobody reading this has ever heard of acePLAY, but believe it or not, I wrote an article about it over four and a half years ago! I thought to myself, “Hmm…that site sounds familiar, I wonder if I ever wrote anything about it?”
Sure enough, when I did a search on a little backend page for the site, acePlay popped up!
In February 2013, Bally Technologies – the first company to receive an online gaming license in Nevada, by the way (win a bar bet with that one!) – inked a deal with Amaya Gaming (now The Stars Group) to use the Ongame poker platform as well as its casino games for a new online gaming offering.
A few months earlier, Bally’s agreed to provide American Casino and Entertainment Properties, LLC (ACEP) with an online poker platform. ACEP owns the Stratosphere casino in Las Vegas, Arizona Charlie’s Decatur, Arizona Charlie’s Boulder, and the Aquarius Casino Resort and is now itself owned by Golden Entertainment. That online poker product was called acePLAY (GET IT?) and launched for play money only the same week Bally made the Ongame deal.
I honestly don’t know if ACEP ever intended to eventually offer real money poker, but acePLAY did offer Stratosphere-related prizes. Though it was just play money, it was clearly meant to be a way to market ACEP’s properties.
But despite Nevada being the gambling capital of the U.S. (and the world, really) as well as the first state to legalize online poker, online poker has not been very successful there at all. A lot of that has to do with the simple fact that the state is not heavily populated, though hopefully things will improve once New Jersey’s player pool is combined with Nevada’s and Delaware’s. The other problem is likely that Nevada only legalized online poker, not online casino games, as well. Casino games are much more accessible to the average gambler or potential gambler and can eventually be used as a way to players involved in poker. New Jersey, for example, hasn’t seen online poker be this gigantic boon that regulators expected it to be, but online casinos have thrived.
Now, acePLAY wasn’t for real money, but if you’re going to try to bring in a crowd for fake money poker and casino games, you need a good hook, and using the old Ongame software is not the best way to start. There are plenty of free games that offer no “real life” rewards that draw large player numbers – say, Zynga Poker – but they have a huge built-in player base on social media and offer all sorts of silly free social goodies that players lap up.