According to OnlinePokerReport.com (OPR), partypoker might be looking to enter the Nevada online poker market. The possibility comes from a licensing application filed by partypoker’s parent company GVC Holdings, which has already made it through one regulatory hurdle.
Live Poker Huge in Nevada, Online Not So Much
Even though Nevada is the gambling hub of the world and the 50th World Series of Poker is about to begin in Las Vegas, it is almost a barren wasteland when it comes to online poker. Nevada was the first state to legalize and regulate online poker and was the first state to see an online poker room go live. That room, launched in 2013, was Ultimate Poker (not to be confused with the thankfully dead UltimateBet). Ultimate Poker made the bold decision to develop its own online poker software, which, while fine, was not nearly as robust as previously existing products from other companies.
A few months later, WSOP.com launched, using 888poker’s platform, and quickly overtook Ultimate Poker in player traffic. In November 2014, Ultimate Poker shut down, citing lower-than-expected revenues and partially blaming the state-by-state regulatory process. Ultimate Poker wasn’t a bad site, it just didn’t have the software or brand of WSOP.com and Nevada’s population was not large enough to sustain both sites. Even after Ultimate Poker’s demise, WSOP.com never got particularly large, though it is now networked with New Jersey’s WSOP.com.
Thus, the notion that partypoker could potentially hop into the Nevada market is intriguing. It will be at a major disadvantage, coming in years after WSOP.com, and though it has an established brand, it won’t touch WSOP.com in that department.
Regulatory Process Provides Clues
But first things first. OPR reports that GVC Holdings applied for a Nevada interactive gaming license in order to partner with MGM Resorts International on an online betting product called Roar Digital. As OPR notes, that it is an “interactive gaming” license could be key, because in Nevada, that phrase means online poker (online casino games are not legal in the Silver State). There is no guarantee that GVC is hoping to launch partypoker in Nevada, but it seems that it is making sure the option is there.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board approved the license a couple weeks ago by a 2-to-1 vote. The “nay” came from Terry Johnson, who took issue with Ladbrokes, bought by GVC last year, because Ladbrokes operated in the Turkish market even though online gambling is illegal there. GVC purged its Turkey business in order to get into the good graces of regulators.
GVC must still get the thumbs-up from the Nevada Gaming Commission to then enter a two-year probational period. It will also have to shell out $100,000 to pay for regulators’ investigations into its business.
MGM Resorts International already has plenty of experience with online gaming in the United States, as it owns the Borgata in Atlantic City; Borgata is partypoker’s partner in New Jersey. According to PokerScout.com, partypoker ranks a distant third in the New Jersey online poker market with a seven-day average of just 26 cash game players. WSOP/888 is first with 240 players (remember, it is networked with Nevada, as well as Delaware) and PokerStars is second with 85 players.