South Point Casino’s Real Gaming has officially become Nevada’s third full-fledged online poker operator.
After eight full months in the “soft-launch” phase, during which time it has been rigorously tested by Nevada’s regulators, the site finally got the green light to proceed from the state Gaming Control Board last week. At a special meeting of the board in Carson City, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved the removal of the test period following a favorable recommendation from the Board.
Real Gaming CEO Lawrence Vaughan told the meeting that the company experienced no problems with player verification during testing, and efforts to limit play to customers within Nevada alone had been successful.
Uniquely, Real Gaming requires its players to download a smartphone app, available for iPhone and Android, which can then verify their location and will send them a “token” enabling them to play.
RealGaming.com is the vision of Michael Gaughan, owner of the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa on the South Las Vegas Strip, and creator of the now-defunct South Point Racing NASCAR Team. The site previously existed as SouthPointPoker.com, which in 2011 became the first free-to-play poker site launched by a land-based casino in Nevada. South Point was also the first operator in the Silver State to receive a remote gambling license, back in 2012, and for a while, it looked like it would be first into the market.
The delay may have been due to the fact that, unlike its competitors, Real Gaming developed its proprietary software completely in-house, which meant it required more stringent regulatory testing. Ultimate Gaming, which beat its competitors by releasing a simple product that allowed it to get into the market first, purchased CyberArts software in order to build its platform, while WSOP.com uses software developed by 888.com.
And while Ultimate Gaming’s philosophy has been to launch with simplicity and then refine and develop, Real Gaming’s product is immediately more complex: it’s multi-platform and Mac-compatible. Real Gaming claims that “by utilizing the latest technologies we are able to deliver new experiences to our customers like never before.”
Real Gaming opened itself up for account verification at the beginning of August 2013, meaning that players were able create their accounts and verify their identity in preparation for soft launch, which happened in February 2014.
Vaughan said that Real Gaming’s initial marketing push had been focused on South Point’s existing brick-and-mortar customer base, but now, with the soft launch period over, the company will extend its marketing in order to reach a wider audience. It will be interesting to see whether the transition from soft launch and the new marketing efforts will increase the site’s market share in Nevada, which up until now has been negligible. WSOP.com currently leads the pack, having profited from the popularity of its brand name during the WSOP in Las Vegas over the summer.