Ultimate Gaming never took off in New Jersey, trailing far behind offerings by companies like partypoker (partnered with the Borgata) and the Caesars/888 partnership. Now, with their land-based partner Trump Taj Mahal likely to close later this year, Ultimate has become the first online gaming company to bow out of the New Jersey market.
The shutdown of the Ultimate Gaming websites, including a reasonably popular casino product and a struggling poker room, occurred at 11:59 pm EDT on Sunday night. That followed a Friday announcement that the company had terminated its relationship with Trump Taj Mahal Associates, following “multiple breaches” of contract by the casino company.
“We are grateful to the State of New Jersey and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for allowing us to be one of the first companies to bring online gaming to the citizens of New Jersey and appreciate their leadership as one of the first states to allow online gaming,” said Ultimate Gaming Chairman Tom Breitling.
Ultimate and Trump Had Tenuous Relationship
Trump Entertainment Resorts, which is the parent company that operates the Taj Mahal, has not commented on the Ultimate shutdown. However, the closure of the Ultimate sites comes after a tumultuous relationship between the Internet gambling firm and the Atlantic City casino.
In the most successful Atlantic City partnerships, brick-and-mortar casinos have worked with their online software providers to help market and promote the sites. Ultimate Gaming received few such benefits from the Taj Mahal, leaving Ultimate to mostly promote the site on their own.
That left the company in a tough spot, which especially showed up in its poker numbers. Ultimate Poker never found much success in New Jersey, with the poker room ranking at or near the bottom of sites in the state, in terms of both revenue and traffic throughout its existence. The company’s casino product (UCasino) fared better, bringing in over $4.4 million in revenue through August this year. However, that still lagged behind the other Internet gaming operations in Atlantic City.
Player Funds Can Be Withdrawn
Players still have several days in which to access their Ultimate Gaming accounts and withdraw funds. After September 28, Ultimate will begin automatically processing refunds to players at their registered addresses.
“We are working closely with the Division of Gaming Enforcement to ensure a smooth transition for our online gaming customers as we wind down our New Jersey operations,” Breitling said.
The Trump Taj Mahal is currently undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, and it’s likely that Ultimate Gaming will be involved in those proceedings going forward. Fertitta Acquisition, a company associated with Ultimate Gaming owner Station Casinos, is listed as a creditor owed nearly $1.5 million from the casino.
The news won’t affect Ultimate’s operations in Nevada, where they operate Ultimate Poker. That site currently ranks second in terms of traffic in the Nevada online poker market, and Breitling says more improvements are coming to their software package there.
Ultimate isn’t the only company in New Jersey that could be affected by troubles at Atlantic City casinos. Betfair was formerly partnered with Trump Plaza, which closed its doors earlier this month. While the Department of Gaming Enforcement has temporarily allowed Betfair to operate without a brick-and-mortar partner, it seems unlikely that such an arrangement would be allowed to continue indefinitely.