Online poker in Nevada probably doesn’t need any more competition at the moment. After all, there’s barely enough traffic to go around for two sites, let alone the three that are currently operating in the state. But there does seem to be room for more casinos to get involved in helping drive traffic to the existing sites.
That’s the plan for Peppermill Resorts, a northern Nevada casino empire that has teamed with Ultimate Poker in a new partnership that could help both sides. Under the terms of the agreement, players will be able to make deposits for the site at five Peppermill locations in Reno, Sparks and Wendover, after which they can play on Ultimate Poker’s Nevada site.
Poker players will be asked to sign up online at the Peppermill Resort Casino’s website, then visit any of the casinos to make a secured deposit before they begin playing.
For Ultimate Poker and majority-owner Station Casinos, this could be a way of extending their reach and fighting back against Caesars’ World Series of Poker (WSOP) site, which has become the dominant force in Nevada online poker.
“It gives us the opportunity to bring our online poker product to the Northern Nevada market through Peppermill’s extensive customer database,” said Tobin Prior, CEO of Ultimate Gaming, in a statement.
According to PokerScout, the WSOP site in Nevada currently averages about 140 real money cash game player at any given time. While that number has been bolstered somewhat by the World Series of Poker, it’s still far ahead of Ultimate Poker, which only averages about 60 players. Meanwhile, the Real Gaming site operated by South Point Casino rarely has any traffic to speak of at all.
Peppermill first announced their intention to find a way into the state’s online poker market in March, making them the first Northern Nevada casino firm to do so. They may have that corner of the market to themselves for a while, as competitors such as the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa have said they have no interest in Internet gambling.
“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you do it,” Atlantis CEO John Farahi told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
It’s unlikely that the Atlantis will be able to walk back from that statement. But it’s just as unlikely that they’ll feel a need to do so. While online poker has brought in some revenue for casinos that have launched sites, it hasn’t been more than a blip on their bottom lines. Over their first year in operation, the sites brought in just over $9 million in revenue for casinos: a nice figure, but nothing compared to the $11 billion the state’s casinos brought in throughout 2013.
“In Nevada, it’s proven to be ho-hum,” said Reno gaming analyst Ken Adams. “In Nevada, there are not enough citizens to make a big difference.”
However, the poker sites could receive a boost later this year. In February, the governors of Nevada and Delaware signed a compact that would allow poker sites to share player pools between their two states. That partnership is expected to go into effect later this year, though only 888 Poker is expected to immediately be able to take advantage, as they are the sole poker provider in Delaware.