Ultimate Poker was the first poker room to make a home in the regulated Nevada online poker market, getting its product out to gamblers months before the competition. Now, Ultimate is also the first company to call it quits in the state, less than two years after its initial launch.
Station Casinos and Ultimate Gaming have announced that Ultimate Poker will be ceasing operations in Nevada, thanks in large part to the fact that online poker simply hasn’t met revenue expectations in the state.
“As has been the case in other jurisdictions, online poker revenues in Nevada have fallen far short of original projections,” said Ultimate Gaming Chairman Tom Breitling. “Moreover, the state-by-state approach to online gaming has created an extremely cost-prohibitive and challenging operating environment. These factors have combined to make the path to profitability very difficult and uncertain. Consequently, we have decided to cease operations.”
The move comes just two months after Ultimate Gaming left the New Jersey market. According to company-issued statements, that decision was based on “multiple breaches” from the Trump Taj Mahal, the land-based casino that had partnered with Ultimate in the Garden State. The online operator had also failed to grab much of a foothold in the state, particularly on the poker side of the business. At the time, Breitling said that Ultimate would continue to work on its Nevada product.
In Nevada, however, Ultimate had found more success. Being the first company in the market was a big advantage, one that helped make up for disappointing software and little brand recognition. When Caesars launched its WSOP.com site (which utilizes software from 888 Holdings), Ultimate even managed to hold on to the top spot in the state’s traffic rankings for a few weeks, but then the dynamic began to shift.
But that lead was short-lived, as WSOP.com eventually became the dominant site in the state. Still, Ultimate held on to a small-but-stable client base, accounting for about one-third of traffic in Nevada. It appeared that both sites might be able to co-exist for the time being, but perhaps Ultimate’s leadership believed there was little hope for success in the long run.
“We are grateful to the Nevada Gaming Commission and Gaming Control Board for allowing us to be the first company to operate online poker in Nevada and greatly appreciate their leadership and support as the first state to license and regulate online poker,” Breitling said. “We are working closely with the Gaming Control Board to ensure a smooth transition for our customers as we cease Nevada operations.”
Ultimate Poker pro Danielle “dmoongirl” Andersen, who said she found out about the news on Twitter, expressed disappointment that the site was folding.
“Obviously saddened by the @UltimatePoker news,” Andersen tweeted. “Appreciative of all the opportunities they provided for myself & the poker community. All I can do is hope like hell the future is brighter for this game I love so much. Saddens me to think of the alternative.”
The closure of Ultimate Poker leaves just two active online poker rooms in the state of Nevada. While WSOP.com has virtually all of the remaining traffic in the market, there is also a Real Gaming site operated by South Point Casino. In addition, more sites are expected to launch in the months to come, including two 888-powered sites: one backed by Treasure Island, and another under the 888poker brand.