One Operator’s Vision for Online Poker in Nevada
Pokerfuse sat down with Alec Driscoll, Director of Gaming Development for American Casino & Entertainment Properties, to discuss plans for its upcoming venture into the Nevada online poker market.
ACEP has several properties including the Stratosphere, have you decided on a name for your online site?
There is obviously value in brand recognition with the name Stratosphere. It’s an iconic brand, but we are going to go with a standalone brand. We decided that we had an opportunity with the emerging US (and Nevada) market to use a new brand. This also allows us to pull from the databases of our existing four properties and promote them all under one roof.
When will your real-money online poker product be launched?
We would love to launch it as soon as we get approval from the regulators to do so. We will open for free-play in December and we plan to be in that first group of operators that go live.
What type of games and stakes that will be offered?
The short answer is that we will offer whatever is legal under the regulations when it comes to for-wager. Remember, no poker software product has been licensed in Nevada yet. It is a very precarious position we are in as we try to develop our strategy and define a path for something that has a propensity to change. The landscape over the last year has changed quite a bit with regulations being formalized and various potential poker partners establishing whether or not they were interested in pursuing licensing here in Nevada.
With all of that to frame our strategy, we committed to a having a free-play environment up and running before the year is out. This allows us to begin operations as we wait for partners to complete the regulatory requirements to get to for-wager gaming. We will offer free-to-play poker as well as other free-to-play casino games. For-wager will come on board as poker first, as that is the only game type we understand to be legal.
That is the why it was a pretty easy decision for us to partner with Bally Technologies. Their platform will integrate easily with the poker partner we choose. We can pick whoever is licensed. When we started this process over a year and a half ago, we knew that we didn’t want to tie our trailer to a particular poker company, whether domestic or international, because of the risk we would be exposed to in the event that poker partner did not receive a license.
Are you looking to venture into multi-table tournaments which require a certain level of liquidity to be successful, or are you planning on focusing more on single table tournaments and cash games? Also, will you offer games other than hold’em like PLO or stud?
I think it’s going to be interesting. A lot of the data that the market has is not based on US numbers so what we’ve got to do is offer everything and then peel the onion back over time. But what we would like to do is offer games in line with a lot of what you see today in free-play environments including a lot of sit-and-goes and MTTs.
We understand that liquidity is going to be an issue; especially in Nevada where you have fewer than three million people in the entire state, and they are probably not all going to pick the same site to play on. We see the issues and we will address them as we go. We will build our liquidity through alliances with other sites on the same network.
Are you going to allow online play within your properties via in-room play, casino kiosks or hand-held devices?
I think they are all necessary parts of the strategy, but for us it makes a lot of sense to start basic. We won’t be doing any in-room play or hand held devices just yet. If you come to one of our properties in Las Vegas (or anyone elses for that matter), we would hope that you would want to come down to the casino floor and enjoy the live experience.