South Point Casino is the first licensee to gain approval from Nevada gaming officials as an operator of an Internet poker site.
Bally Technologies, International Game Technology and Shuffle Master have already been approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission as manufacturers to provide gaming technology software to land-based casinos. South Point’s approval is unique in that the casino already has an online site that has been offering free-play poker since October of 2011. The casino received the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s recommendation to act as manufacturer, service provider, and operator.
Receiving the blessing of the control board is the beginning of the process to garner the official rubber stamp that will allow South Point Poker to transition from free-play to real-money online poker. The casino must also go before the gaming commission before formal approval is granted. However, no problems are anticipated and once the control board finds favor with an applicant, the gaming commission’s approval is generally nothing short of a formality.
South Point is also set apart from other applicants in the fact that its operating systems have been undergoing testing prior to approval. By getting an early jump on the testing phase, South Point Poker hopes to be the first online poker site to legally be up and running from the U.S. If all goes as expected from this point forward, Nevada residents and tourists can be playing regulated online poker sometime this fall. South Point will also have to plunk down a $500,000 license fee before the virtual switch is turned on.
The control board made two other recommendations along with South Point. Monarch Casino and Resort, Inc. also received approval as an operator but has yet to secure a partnership to provide the game technology. Global Cash Access Holdings, Inc. was recommended as a payment processing service provider–the first to get the nod in that category.
Earlier this year, gaming officials had projected that online poker sites would be up and running around Christmas or early next year. South Point has seemingly shattered those expectations in submitting to early testing and being way ahead of the other applicants by having the forethought to operate a free-play site that would require a minimum of modifications to switch to real-money online poker. Most of the other Nevada casinos that are expected to receive licenses as operators will have to rely on partnerships with manufacturers that will provide the gaming systems.