Although it was anticipated that South Point Poker would be up and running as Nevada’s first real-money online poker site sometime this fall, the regulatory process is facing delays and a launch date nearer to the end of 2012 is much more probable.
The company was hoping to launch this month after becoming the Silver State’s first company to gain approval as an online poker operator in August. The testing process is taking longer than original estimated projections, as well as the time-consuming constant back-and-forth with gaming officials to ensure that South Point meets all the necessary requirements.
“We feel we could launch today,” South Point Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Vaughan told Vegas Inc. “But you’ve got to go through the independent testing labs, you have to satisfy the state Gaming Control Board and because we are the first, we’re going to be under the microscope. They’re going to prod us every which way, and that’s good. We don’t want to come out and fall flat on our face and be an embarrassment for Nevada.”
South Point has been running a free-play online poker site for over a year now, which allowed the company to collect the names of thousands of nationwide players. The eventual launching of Nevada’s first Internet poker site will be restricted to state residents and tourists initially, but South Point hopes to tap into its database of players throughout the U.S. if and when online poker becomes regulated under an interstate format. However, the free-play site has been taken offline. Apparently, players were visiting the site under the assumption that real-money poker was already available.
“We thought there was a lot of confusion happening,” Vaughan said. “People see something in the press saying we’re the first to be licensed, and then they go to the site and see this free-play thing. Now that we’re licensed, we put so much effort in to building our own stuff that we wanted the focus to be on that.”
South Point Poker is headquartered in Summerlin, Nevada–not at South Point Hotel Casino & Spa in Las Vegas. The decision to locate apart from the live casino was made in an effort to focus on providing online poker services away from the distractions of brick and mortar gambling,
“We view ourselves as a creative software company,” Vaughan said. “I don’t think of us as a casino.”
Despite the delays, South Point is still well ahead of the other recommended and/or approved licensees in being first to offer legal online poker in the U.S. That list includes Golden Nugget, Boyd Gaming, Fertitta Interactive, Bally Technologies, Global Cash Access Holdings, SHFL entertainment (recently rebranded from Shuffle Master), International Game Technology, American Casino and Entertainment Properties (ACEP), Monarch Interactive, WMS Industries, and PokerTrip Enterprises.