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Fertitta Interactive acquires online gaming software provider

Congress may be taking a slow approach in legalizing Internet poker, but potential operators aren’t waiting to move forward.

Fertitta Interactive, a Las Vegas-based Internet gaming startup company part-owned by the Station Casinos’ Fertitta brothers, said Wednesday it acquired California-based online software provider CyberArts Licensing.

The deal allows Fertitta Interactive, which is also owned by former Golden Nugget owners Tom Breitling and Tim Poster, to develop an Internet poker website if the federal government legalizes and establishes a regulatory process for the activity.

In the interim, Breitling said the company will explore launching a free-play poker website.

Software developed by CyberArts is used by PurePlay, a free-to-play American subscription poker website. The purchase price was not disclosed. CyberArts, which is based in Oakland, will become a division of Fertitta Interactive.

“This is an exciting opportunity,” Breitling said. “This is a company that has developed the best poker software in the market.”

Breitling said CyberArts, which provides the online platform to European gaming companies, has never done business with foreign websites that accept wagers from Americans.

“They are a totally clean site,” Breitling said. “They have never taken a wager from a U.S. player. That was important to us.”

Fertitta Interactive was developed last spring by brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, Breitling and Poster as a way to expand into the Internet gaming market. The Fertittas, through Fertitta Gaming, own 45 percent of Station Casinos. The brothers are also majority owners of the mixed martial arts organization Ultimate Fighting Championship

In March, Fertitta Interactive announced an agreement with online giant Full Tilt Poker to partner in an online gaming venture. But the deal collapsed two weeks later when operators of Full Tilt, PokerStars and Absolute Poker were indicted on federal money laundering and bank fraud changes.

Prosecutors in August said Full Tilt’s executives defrauded customers of more than $300 million.

Breitling said the operators of Fertitta Interactive support federal regulation of online poker. He said Americans are still gambling online, despite April’s government crackdown.

“A series of steps needs to take place,” Breitling said. “We believe in a new code of conduct for online poker we will elevate the bar to a new standard. Proven operators like ourselves run toward and embrace regulation.”

During a congressional subcommittee hearing Tuesday on a proposed online poker bill, the chairwoman urged lawmakers to move slowly in considering legalization of the activity.

Breitling and Poster were the original founders of Travelscape.com. The Fertitta brothers invested in the venture, which was sold to Expedia. Breitling and Poster purchased the Golden Nugget casinos from MGM Mirage in 2004, selling the properties in 2005 to Landry’s Inc.

Fertitta Interactive principal Lorenzo Fertitta said in a statement the acquisition will help the company gain a foothold quickly in the online gaming space, once the activity is legalized

“We will be working on new and innovative products with the goal of ultimately providing consumers with the best online gaming experience in a safe and secure environment,” Fertitta said.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871.
Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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