The long wait is finally over: Caesars Entertainment’s World Series of Poker real money online poker site will launch later this week in Nevada. That was the news from a conference call held by Caesars, in which they previewed the launch of their long-awaited real money online poker site, only the second to hit the now legal and regulated Nevada Internet market so far.
Site to Launch This Week
According to Caesars Interactive Entertainment CEO Mitch Garber, the site will be going live on Thursday, September 19 at 9:19 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. The site will immediately be available to anyone who is over 21 and currently in Nevada, whether they live in or are visiting the state.
“It’s a very exciting and gratifying day to see the WSOP go online,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart.
According to officials, the delays weren’t due to any specific problems encountered during the regulatory process. Instead, it was the fact that the requirements to approve the site were rather intense that caused the delay, as both Caesars Interactive and 888 Holdings – which provided the software platform that the site is based on – were required to go through regulatory scrutiny before real money play would be allowed. However, officials said that the long process should be seen as a benefit in the long run, as it will allow consumers to be confident in the quality of the product Caesars is putting forward.
One of the biggest advantages that a WSOP-branded site will have is the land-based assets that the poker room can draw on. On the conference call, officials pointed to the fact that existing programs like Caesars’ Total Rewards program and hotel rooms at Ceasars’ properties can be leveraged to add more value to prizes and promotions on the site.
That extends to the WSOP itself, of course. At this year’s series, over 12,000 were signed up for accounts on the online poker site, giving the poker room tremendous visibility before it even launched. That will help feed into the Online Championship, an event designed to run alongside the World Series of Poker Main Event’s final stages. There will be nine tournaments in the Online Championship, each of which will have money added to the prize pool. The nine winners will then return at the same time as the November Nine to play their own championship event, in which each player will play online from a separate room.
Not All Offerings Available Yet
To start, WSOP.com will feature Hold’em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud games, with hi/lo variants available. The site will also launch with Mac compatibility, but a mobile version has not yet been developed. The site will feature plenty of deposit and withdrawal options, but players will not be able to conduct transactions at Caesars casino properties, at least at the site’s launch (unlike competitor UltimatePoker.com, which allows players to make both deposits and withdrawals from any Stations casino in Nevada). Satellites will also be a big part of the new site, with satellites for the WSOP Europe being available immediately upon the site’s launch. Players will also be able to take advantage of a loyalty program known as the Action Club, which will include several tiers (including one that will feature offline recognition).
During the conference call, there were several questions about the possibility of interstate compacts. While nothing has been set in stone yet, officials said they were supportive of such moves to improve player liquidity if and when they become available. They also expressed support for federal online poker legislation, while saying they’re happy to embrace state-by-state options as they become available.