2 more companies recommended for Nevada online poker licenses

Two more companies cleared initial licensing hurdles today to potentially compete in Nevada’s new intrastate online poker industry.

The State Gaming Control Board, meeting in Las Vegas, recommended online poker licensure for slot machine maker WMS Industries Inc. of Waukegan, Ill., and casino operator American Casino & Entertainment Properties LLC (ACEP), Las Vegas.

ACEP owns the Stratosphere and two Arizona Charlie’s casinos in Las Vegas and the Aquarius in Laughlin.

WMS was recommended as an interactive gaming system manufacturer and as a service provider.

ACEP has a players’ club for its brick-and-mortar casino customers called ace PLAY, meaning it already has a database of players it can market poker to.

ACEP was recommended as an interactive gaming operator.

Alec Driscoll, head of iGaming at ACEP, said the company plans to put up a free play poker site by the end of the year as a marketing tool and with final regulatory approval, launch real-money online poker next year.

The online initiative is aimed partly at promoting the Stratosphere and the other physical casinos.

“We want to drive visitation to those properties,” he said.

The recommendations will be forwarded for potential final approval to the Nevada Gaming Commission, which could consider them as early as Sept. 20.

Today’s recommendations follow approvals earlier this summer by the board and commission for online poker licenses for South Point Poker LLC, Global Cash Access Holdings Inc., Bally Technologies Inc. and Shuffle Master Inc., all of Las Vegas, and IGT and Monarch Interactive Inc., both of Reno.

South Point Poker appears to be the farthest along in development and testing of its poker system and has said it hopes to lauch real-money online poker next month, if it receives final technical approvals from regulators.

Some 30-plus companies have applied for licensing as Nevada online poker operators, system manufacturers and service providers.