It’s a new day; online legal poker is kicking off today for Nevada players. After almost two years of trying to turn Internet poker into a legitimate entity, looks like Stations Casinos-owned UltimatePoker gets to go down in the history books as the first one to launch.
Of course, as advertised, you’ll have to have an IP address that traces to Nevada, at least until interstate compacts get figured out, which we can pretty much guarantee will happen in the not-too-distant future. Today’s launch is already ahead of what any of the big players, like Caesars, had been predicting; most had been suggesting September as the first trial period for legal online poker to come to fruition.
Last week, state gaming authorities reviewed and signed off on UltimatePoker’s technology, and gave Stations the high sign to move forward with a test period launch. The company received its interactive gaming license last October.
The new legal site went live today with offerings of both limit and no limit hold’em, and with a variety of single-table cash games, sit n’ go tournaments, and multi-table tournaments. We picture a whole bunch of engineers huddling together, heads bowed, praying to the poker gods, “Please don’t crash, please don’t crash!”
Looks like the cash games are designed to draw in neophytes as well as seasoned pros; we’re hearing buy-ins will range from pennies up to $100. In other words, no major money will be on the line online until they make sure it’s all systems go. In an (under)statement, UltimatePoker’s chairman Tom Breitling told the press that “this is an important day for the gaming industry. We’re the first, not only in Nevada, but in America, to offer real-money poker in a regulated environment.”
Breitling went on to say that Nevada’s existing and highly regulated land-based gaming oversight should allay any concerns that players might have about game safety and security. But of course, transferring those tight structures to an iGaming environment will pose many new challenges.
As of today, Nevada poker players can sign up online, deposit money, and then cash out their winnings at any of Station Casinos’ 16 locations in Southern Nevada. Apparently, if you live in Reno, you’re going to be driving down to Vegas if you want your money. Meanwhile, poker players who live outside the state, but are planning a visit, can still sign up, deposit money, and then play on a Nevada-based computer once they arrive. Brilliant timing there, with World Series of Poker just around the corner. Hope the ROW (rest of the world) players don’t forget to cash out before they return to Stockholm, though.
Ultimate Gaming, the company that developed the technology that will be in use for the launch site, understands what’s at stake here. “The technology was acquired and initially developed by a U.S.-based company with a completely clean regulatory profile, said Ultimate Gaming’s CEO Tobin Prior. (There’s a “no priors” joke in there). “Being the first to launch is an honor, but it also comes with a big responsibility. Everyone will be watching us.”
He’s got that right. Players, and the IRS. Welcome to the Brave New World; now shuffle up, deal, and don’t forget to file your W-2Gs.