As Nevada’s suitability hearings and approval process for providers of online poker continues stepping forward, it is only a matter of months until the first real-money site begins accepting players. Now the CEO of the south-of-Strip property South Point Hotel Casino & Spa believes his brand might be the first.

South Point CEO Michael Gaughan, one of leading advocates for regulated online poker among Nevada’s land-based casinos, offered his recent thoughts on the situation in a recent eGaming Review interview.

“I may not be the biggest or the best, but hopefully I’ll have a head start by two or three months.” Gaughan added, “at the end of the year it will be a full-blown site in Nevada. Then we’ll try and go into the other states where it is legal and do some contracts there.”

According to Gaughan, testing of the South Point’s own real-money online poker platform has already begun, despite the casino not having yet passed its own suitability hurdles. The new software will be different than the brand’s existing play-chips poker offering at southpointpoker.com.

South Point is among 30 applicants for an interactive gaming license in Nevada, and hopes its turn through the approval carousel comes in August. One possible South Point partner has already received Nevada’s approval, that being Bally Technologies.

South Point and Bally just announced a deal for the casino to use Bally’s new IVIEW player bonusing applications, to be used in interactive horse racing betting, slot machine tourneys and other applications. A deal with Bally regarding online poker processing services is at least a possibility, as are a couple of other companies known to have relevant business relationships with South Point.

Will it all be up and running by September, as Gaughan hopes? That seems a bit optimistic, given the approvals and testing hurdles still needing to be cleared. Yet it seems certain that South Point and other sites with be offering real-money poker play to Nevada customers by year’s end.