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Stashed amid the “Balance of Clark County” numbers released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board are last August’s Ultimate Poker revenues. The NGCB won’t break out Internet-gambling monies into a discrete category until there are three operators in the market (currently we’re at two).
However, Union Gaming’s Bill Lerner crunched the numbers and noticed a spike in card-game revenue. Extrapolating from this, he concluded that i-poker engendered “roughly $600,000 in gaming revenue during the month. We believe this is notable given there hasn’t [sic] been many tangible financial results yet of online gaming.” No, but this first one is a healthy portent for the industry.
2UP Gaming? The U.K. outfit was making a lot of noise about buying or – even riskier – building a casino-hotel in Atlantic City. Even if you take advantage of the new “boutique casino” law, you’re still looking at a $300 million investment, at least.
However, a ray of sunshine may be shining in 2UP’s direction. A company called Boardwalk Piers has purchased the old Sands Casino Hotel site, for a paltry $30.6 million. That means a $239 million bath for former owner Pinnacle Entertainment, which paid high at the top of the market. Atlantic City was nearly Pinnacle’s undoing and it wasn’t going to stick around, i-gaming or no.
Most importantly, Boardwalk Piers is sufficiently emboldened by the prospect of ‘Net bets to be talking about building a casino on the vacant land. 2UP has been letting it be known that it has $330 million on tap for casino development. Boardwalk Piers brings its acreage to the table and 2UP provides the gaming expertise? It makes sense … the first time that 2UP’s talk about buying in Atlantic City – where two existing casinos are for sale for a pittance – has taken on the ring of sanity.
You know the casino industry is desperate when it places all its hopes on a load of melodramatic codswollop. Runner Runner, a hyped-up depiction of offshore Internet casinos is supposed to turn the tide on Capitol Hill toward legalization and regulation of online poker at a federal level. At least that’s what new American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman would have us believe, claiming it is “not far from reality.” Funny, I can’t remember the last time an i-gaming minion was fed to crocodiles by Ben Affleck.
CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com’s review stumbles by calling Costa Rica an “island.” (Let’s schedule a remedial geography lesson, lads, shall we?) But it concludes by deeming Runner Runner “fun, but not particularly accurate.” Sounds about right to me.
Then there’s John Pappas of the PPA over at Calvin Ayre.com (interview above) and the question of what he’s been smoking. Pappas conjures up vision of federal legislative action, led by the hitherto-useless Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who’s got a placeholder bill sitting in the House of Representatives’ hopper.
Not this year, man, and the chances worsen as the 2014 midterms draw nigh. I’d certainly love to know who’s led Pappas to believe that a consortium of California tribes – does the phrase ‘herding cats’ come to mind? – will coalesce around Internet gambling legislation that will become early next year. Both the Legislature and the populace will preoccupied with off-reservation casinos.
Farthest out, geographically and otherwise, is the prediction of i-poker action in New York State in the first quarter of 2014. Dude, the Andrew Cuomo administration will, if it is lucky, have just passed a major expansion of casino gambling and VLTs. The political willpower for a second, immediate expansion of Empire State gambling is unlikely to be there, especially since it will mean going to the voters with another constitutional question in hand.
With four casinos in Atlantic City, financially strapped Caesars Entertainment has three more than it needs to run Internet gambling. So why not make a little extra money by sublicensing those properties’ proxies to your non-Boardwalk competitors?
That is what Caesars is strongly rumored to be doing, specifically with Wynn Interactive. Since Wynn Resorts doesn’t have a terrestrial footprint in Atlantic City, Caesars can certainly afford to monetize its plethora of licenses by piggybacking Wynn onto one of them. “On one side of the room ABC company can have its server, next to it can be a server from another company,” said the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement’s David Rebuck.
Caesars software partner 888 Holdings also has online partnerships – under the banner of 888’s separate All American Poker Network – with Wynn Interactive, Las Vegas’ Treasure Island and low-roller haven Golden Gaming, so it could fold all of its alter egos under the Caesars cloak. “We could have 10 different brands operating in the U.S. by the end of the year,” boasts 888’s Itai Frieberger. That means Caesars stands to garner quite a bit of extra “rake” by hosting 888’s non-Jersey clients. And these days Caesars can use any money it can find, anywhere it can find it.
We’ll know for certain on Oct. 11 whether New Jersey will go live on Internet poker or not. That’s the last day for a mandatory, 45-day, advance notice to the public. Technically, Oct. 12 would be the date but that’s a Saturday, and everybody’s going to be home watching college football and wishing they could wager on it.