Nevada Online Gambling Licensee Profile: Treasure Island

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This is one of a series of profiles covering companies that hold a license to participate in Nevada’s online gambling market.

Treasure Island officially opened its doors in 1993, becoming the latest in a long-line of mega-resort-casinos to open on the famed Las Vegas Strip. Treasure Island, or TI as it later became known, was initially a part of The Mirage Resorts, which at the time TI opened was headed by Las Vegas magnate Steve Wynn.

Details and Timeline of Treasure Island’s Nevada Online Gambling License

  • Treasure Island was among the second group of companies to submit an application to operate an online poker room in Nevada, officially submitting their application in November of 2012. Prior to Treasure Island even applying for an online poker license in Nevada, 12 licenses had already been approved.

  • After submitting their application Treasure Island was granted a public hearing by the Nevada Gaming Control Board in early March 2013, which recommended TI receive their operator’s license to the NGC.

  • On March 21, 2013, Treasure Island LLC was approved as a provider for a Nevada Interactive Gaming license by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Despite a late start, Treasure Island is hoping to use their brand and success in running a live poker room to become a major player in the Nevada online poker industry. As an online poker operator the company will be able to launch and run their online poker room, following Nevada rules and regulations.

Treasure Island’s Operator’s license allows the company to provide online poker games to players physically located within the state’s borders, and requires that TI abide by all of the regulations laid out by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Partnerships and Role in the Nevada market

Because Treasure Island doesn’t have an online gaming presence, and hasn’t purchased a software provider like some other Las Vegas casinos have in the lead-up to Nevada’s online poker launch, TI has entered into a partnership with longtime online gaming power-player 888 Holdings, who will supply Treasure Island’s online poker room with the necessary software and support they need.

888 is positioning itself to be one of the key software providers in the US having already entered into deals with not only Treasure Island, but also Caesars Entertainment for their website, as well as winning the rights to provide Delaware with their online gaming platforms along with their partner in that market, Scientific Games.

As an online poker operator, Treasure Island will operate their own Internet poker room (most likely to be called Treasure Island or TI) and as stated above, provide poker games to anyone within the confines of Nevada.

Treasure Island: Company Overview

The original Treasure Island project was intended to simply be an addition to the Mirage Hotel (as simple as anything in Las Vegas can be of course, which generally means tens- to hundreds-of-million s of dollars) focusing on the Vegas marketing trend at the time, “Family” entertainment. The original plan was eventually scrapped and Treasure Island was turned into a separate hotel and casino, connected to the Mirage by a tram that is still in place today.

During its first decade of existence Treasure Island was marketed as a family-oriented casino, complete with Pirate Flags, kiddie pools, and Pirate Ship battles. Treasure Island’s theme-park atmosphere was happening at a time when Las Vegas was focusing on becoming a family destination, and Treasure Island was trying to capitalize on the Las Vegas tourism ad campaigns that focused on all of the family fun to be had in Las Vegas.

By 2003 that had all changed, for both Treasure Island and Las Vegas, as the gambling Mecca’s tourism board started a new ad campaign, once again focused on adult entertainment – the now-famous “What Happens in Vegas” ad campaign. Treasure Island needed to change directions and scrapped its pirate flags and video arcades in favor of classier design, adding adult-themed amenities and the new “TI” logo.

Treasure Island continued to evolve into an adult-friendly hotel and casino throughout the 2000’s, and TI would undergo its third incarnation in 2008, when The Mirage sold Treasure Island to real estate developer Phil Ruffin. Ruffin has continued to market “TI” as an adult-focused hotel and casino, and the original swashbuckling pirates and video games are now just a distant memory.

TI: Power Players

  • Treasure Island Owner: Phil Ruffin – Phil Ruffin is the owner of Treasure Island, which he purchased for the price of $600 million in cash (kind of makes the $10 million on the table at the WSOP seem small, no?) plus $175 million in secured notes. Ruffin owns numerous casinos and real estate across the US, and is a regular in the super-high-stakes poker games.

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- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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