BY IAN MYLCHREEST -- Ultimate Poker has been waiting for more than a decade to launch in Nevada. When the U.S. Justice Department told the state’s gaming regulators that online poker was illegal, the major companies including Station Casinos, “pulled the plug on their operations,” Ultimate’s CEO Tom Breitling tells Nevada Public Radio.
But the wait is over. Ultimate Poker, Station’s new online subsidiary, launched its site for Nevada players Tuesday and demand has far exceeded the company’s expectations.
Critics like Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson have expressed skepticism that online operators can exclude players under 21 years of age, but Breitling cited the industry’s decades of experience. “There’s multiple ways to enforce this. We have over 30 years of experience in the land-based gaming side of things and it includes online things like self-exclusion … limiting your session-length, deposit limits and things like that,” he says.
How are underage players excluded? “When you sign up, you must provide a Social Security number that is cross-checked against the database and that validates your information. And then we begin to monitor your play.” Breitling did admit, though, that if parents gave children information to fool the system, it would be akin to that parent handing the child a beer. “But,” he adds, “The player protections here are above and beyond anything in the environment for making sure that people are 21.”
On the other big issue facing the industry, Breitling said he’s an optimist that Congress will soon legislate to allow online poker nationwide. The advent of the game in Nevada will make that decision easier for lawmakers, he argued, because state regulators approved “poker-only” legislation rather than trying to put all casino games online.