MGM Has "Everything Lined Up" for Nevada Online Poker MGM Has "Everything Lined Up" for Nevada Online Poker

In terms of being prepared for [a poker] launch, we have everything lined up. It’s just a matter of getting to that point where we go forward. An executive for MGM Resorts International told Nevada regulators that the company has “everything lined up” to launch online poker in Nevada in about a year, but still needs a 14th extension of its interactive gaming license in order to make that goal.

After about six minutes of cordial conversation, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) obliged. The regulator granted the extension, giving MGM more time to launch BetMGM Poker NV (with its partner, Entain) at its meeting last Thursday.

“The timeline for this interactive product, without putting specific date on it, it’s approximately about a year [out],” Chandler Pohl, vice president and legal counsel for MGM Resorts International, told the panel. “That’s the timeline.

“We have a few other projects that revolve around sports betting. We’ve talked with the board about those projects — they are envisioned now to be the next projects and then the poker [product] would come after that.”

“In terms of being prepared for [a poker] launch, we have everything lined up. It’s just a matter of getting to that point where we go forward.”

NGC Commissioner Rosa Solis-Rainey told Pohl that she while appreciated the update, “I don’t feel the spirit of the regulation was intended to be used this way.” She would go on to vote in favor of the extension.”

“I do feel more comfortable with your company [than other operators asking for an extension] only because you’ve been repeatedly in front of us,” Solis-Rainey said. “Your application at least has not become stale. I do understand the business reasons for some of the delays, I just feel they’ve gone on too long.”

MGM is Lucky They Didn’t Address Panel First

The “stale” comment was a dig at Z4 Poker. Solis-Rainey used that word to describe a similar request for a 14th extension by Z4 Poker, a little-known operator.

Z4 Poker executives were at the microphone just before MGM. The Z4 folks were also at the microphone a lot longer (more than 40 minutes). They also conducted a demonstration of their software for the commission.

“We are developing a state-of-the-art real money platform that will be head and shoulders above the competition,” said Eric Colvin, founder and CTO of Z4 Poker. “If we rush the project and launch an incomplete version it could undermine all of the work to date and jeopardize the prospects of the platform. First impressions are key.”

Solis-Rainey wasn’t impressed. “I just feel that too much time has gone on,” she said. “We don’t have anything fresh in front of us, as far as the company’s background [or] the product itself.

“I have serious reservations that it would even matter — I don’t know that [Z4 Poker is] going to be there in a year, but that’s not the basis of it. I just feel [the request for an extension] is very stale in this circumstance.”

NGC Commissioner Brian Krolicki said he understood Solis-Rainey’s position but pointed out that the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) had already recommended that both licenses be extended. NGC ultimately concurred, although Solis-Rainey voted no.

“I don’t doubt there’s an earnestness to all of this and it warrants our approval today,” Krolicki said. “But, you know, [it’s been] a dozen years. There should be an end in sight, but I’m not prepared to make it today.”

Players looking for online poker in Nevada have one choice — WSOP NV. Although the operator has connected its player pools in Nevada and New Jersey, the platform runs on software that’s a decade old. Fresh competition would be very welcome — for players, and for the regulator. But that competition still looks to be a year away.