LAS VEGAS -- Three more companies, including a subsidiary of MGM Resorts International, are a step closer to joining 13 other gaming companies participating in the Nevada's growing online poker industry.
The state's Gaming Control Board on Thursday recommended licensure for MGM Online LLC, as well as boutique firms Z4Poker LLC of Las Vegas and Cams LLC of Los Angeles.
The Nevada State Gaming Control Board Gaming Commission will consider the applications at its Nov. 15 meeting.
MGM Resorts told regulators it plans to establish a play-for-fun website by March. The company already operates myVegas, a social media gaming site with 350,000 monthly visitors.
The new free-play site would also be in partnership with myVegas developer Playstudios.
John McManus, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary with MGM Resorts, said the company and Boyd Gaming Corp. are partnering with real-money poker and casino online company Bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plc.
Bwin.party appears to be on track for licensing in Nevada in 2013.
"Bwin.party license application is currently in the process of being investigated," said A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Gaming Control Board. "At some point next year, (they'll) be on an agenda for final approval."
Burnett said Nevada "is embarking on a new course" with the legalization of intrastate online poker.
Applicants approved since June are Boyd Gaming, Fertitta Interactive LLC, the Golden Nugget, South Point Poker, Global Cash Access Holdings, Bally Technologies, SHFL entertainment (formerly Shuffle Master), American Casino and Entertainment Properties, PokerTrip Enterprises, NetEffect Networks, International Game Technology, Monarch Interactive, and WMS Industries.
Once Bwin.party is licensed, MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming would go live with their websites.
According to the terms of the deal, MGM Resorts would be responsible for marketing, customer support and retention, as well as customer acquisition. Bwin.party will run the "nuts and bolts" of the gaming system.
McManus reiterated MGM Resorts' preference for a federal solution to legalizing online poker. He said a federal bill would "take the bad actors out of the equation."
Z4Poker is developing a poker system that would be marketed to mid-size and small casinos looking to partner with an outside company.
David Colvin, co-owner of Z4Poker, said because of costs smaller operators "are being left out of the space."
Colvin said the firm is also developing some 100 online bingo and keno games. CAMS has software and systems to mange online player accounts, and verify the age, location and identity of players. The subsidiary of Verifi, a global electronic payment and risk management company, also offers systems to prevent problems like money laundering and problem gambling.
Matthew Katz, president of CAMS, said the company was founded earlier this year, because some of our Verifi clients "didn't want to be comingling with our gambling companies."
The Gaming Control Board's meeting on Thursday was the first for Burnett as chairman of the three-member panel. Burnett, 43, replaced Mark Lipparelli, who stepped down in September.
Terry Johnson, who was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to replace Lipparelli, did not participate in Thursday's hearing. His term becomes effective on Nov. 12.
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