Nevada casinos have long been against online gambling, out of fear that the form of gaming would pull customers away from Las Vegas. In the past couple of years, the Nevada casinos have changed their tune, and are now looking for ways to be the first into the online gambling market when the US laws change.
Innovation has become the key with the gray areas in the law. Casinos cannot simply launch online poker sites, although many have found ways to start offering free online poker to their customers. The South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa is tying their customer loyalty program to a free online poker site. Risk will play a big part in whether the loyalty program succeeds.
“It’s kind of a gamble,” said South Point owner Michael Gaughan, as reported by The Associated Press. “I don’t know that much about online poker and I’m trying to learn about it with a free site.”
Online poker is not an industry that many US-based gaming companies are familiar with. Over the past decade, it has been the foreign companies that have serviced online poker customers in the US. Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars had been the top online sites until Black Friday, when the US Department of Justice handed down an indictment against both companies.
Despite the indictment, the call for online poker regulations has increased to a fever pitch. Federal legislators have started to make a push to change the current laws, and that has left the land-based casinos scrambling to be prepared should the laws change. South Point will be allowing players to earn reward points at their land-based casinos in Nevada, and then the player can redeem those points to play poker for free online. Although it is cutting edge of innovation, it is not the first free site offered by Nevada casinos.
Caesars Entertainment launched an online poker site two years ago, and the company has also launched real money online casinos in jurisdictions around the world where online gambling is regulated. Caesars has the name recognition and has been working with Nevada gaming regulators so as to be prepared when the laws change.
Nevada lawmakers have already changed their laws to allow online casinos, but a stipulation in the law does not allow the online sites to offer real money games until the federal laws are changed. Casinos such as South Point and Caesars are launching the free sites anyway, in order to have their customers become accustomed to playing at their branded sites.