Online poker’s Ultimate Gaming folds after 19 months

Ultimate Gaming, the nation’s first legal and regulated real money online wagering website, said Friday it was ending its Nevada-based operation, citing a lack of profitability from the 19-month-old business.

Station Casinos is the majority owner of Ultimate Gaming and has marketed the Ultimate Poker website through its Southern Nevada casinos.

Ultimate Gaming employees were told of the shutdown Friday morning.

In a statement, Ultimate Gaming Chairman Tom Breitling said online poker revenue in Nevada fell far short of once-lofty projections. Breitling said the current state-by-state approach to legalizing online gaming “has created an extremely cost-prohibitive and challenging operating environment.”

Only three states — Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware — allow regulated online gambling. Online poker websites in Nevada can only accept wagers from players physically in the state.

“These factors have combined to make the path to profitability very difficult and uncertain,” Breitling said. “Consequently, we have decided to cease operations.”

The company did not disclose how many employees were affected by the shutdown.

The Ultimate Poker website will stop accepting wagers immediately and its shutdown will comply with various regulatory requirements, the company said. Customers seeking information concerning their account may go online at www.ultimatepoker.com and click support.

Ultimate Poker, which also had a marketing agreement with Ultimate Fighting Championship, launched April 30, 2013, and had a monopoly in Nevada until Caesars Entertainment Corp. launched WSOP.com in September 2013. The site is tied to the World Series of Poker.

Ultimate Poker launched with a $1 million marketing campaign and had enlisted poker champion Antonio Esfandiari as its brand spokesman. Two months after its launch, Breitling said players from all 50 states and 28 countries had created accounts, but the challenge was getting them into Nevada to play on the site.

The launch of WSOP.com severely sliced into Ultimate’s market. Meanwhile, U.S. players still sign on to unregulated off-shore poker websites, despite the April 2011 federal crackdown on illegal Internet gaming.

According to the website PokerScout.com, which tracks online poker activity, Ultimate Poker averaged just 60 players in one sitting much of the time over the past two weeks.

In September, Nevada’s three online poker sites — Ultimate, WSOP.com and South Point’s Real Gaming — reported combined gaming revenue of $693,000, the lowest total since the state began releasing monthly online numbers this year. In June, the sites collected a combined $1.04 million in gaming revenue.

Station Casinos and Ultimate Gaming officials have informed regulators of the planned shutdown.

“We are working closely with the Gaming Control Board to ensure a smooth transition for our customers as we cease Nevada operations,” Breitling said.

In a statement, Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said the current “interactive poker environment” in the United States “is not optimal” for regulated operators.

“We respect the business decision that has been made,” Burnett said. “As we embarked on this path several years ago, we knew many pieces had to fall in place for the business to succeed.”

Burnett called the operators of Ultimate Gaming “model licensees in every way.”

In September, Ultimate Gaming severed its agreement to manage online operations for the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. The casino filed for bankruptcy, with a company owned by Station Casinos was listed as a creditor owed $1.5 million.

When the deal ended, Ultimate Gaming and Taj Mahal had the lowest gaming revenue total of New Jersey’s six online gaming websites through August, according to state regulators.

Ultimate Gaming also had an agreement to allow the Peppermill Casino in Reno and its four affiliated Northern Nevada casinos to use the company’s Internet wagering platform. Those websites also will cease operations.

Eilers Research gaming analyst Adam Krejcik said the New Jersey shutdown was the first sign of trouble.

He wasn’t surprised by Friday’s announcement, saying Station Casinos management is making the right decision by focusing on mobile sports wagering and social gaming through the company’s partnership with PlayStudios.

“The (small in population) Nevada market cannot support more than one operator,” Krejcik said. “So it really was just a matter of time and how long a company was willing to withstand losses before closing down.”

At least $10 million of Station Casino’s third-quarter net loss was attributed to the online gaming operations, much of it because of tax write-downs.

“Needless to say, the online gaming market has been a considerable disappointment,” Station Casinos Chief Financial Officer Marc Falcone said during a conference call Wednesday.

The shutdown of Ultimate should have little effect on plans by Nevada and Delaware to create an interstate online poker network. Gov. Brian Sandoval signed an agreement with Delaware’s governor this year that would allow players from each state to wager on poker through a common website.

European gaming giant 888 Holdings, a partner of Caesars in WSOP.com, is providing the website platform. A launch date has not been announced.

Sandoval and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have informally discussed a similar agreement.

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

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
Casinos to be penalized for allowing drug-impaired customers to gamble
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo talks about an amendment making casinos subject to the same disciplinary standards of preventing people to gamble if impaired by drugs as they are for letting them play while intoxicated by alcohol.
Terrible Herbst to open large travel center in Southern Nevada
The 50,000-square-foot commercial travel center will include 96 fuel pumps and the third White Castle restaurant in Southern Nevada. Wade Tyler Millward reports.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Hooters owner talks about room upgrades at his hotel-casino
George Ruff, founder and senior principal of Trinity Hotel Investors L.L.C., owner of Hooters Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, talks about recent room upgrades at the hotel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Passengers Discuss Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air passengers voice their views on the airline at McCarran International Airport on April 16, 2018. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes Trump tweeted his concerns about the company on Thursday. This isn't the first time Trump commented on the issues via Twitter. August 2017 December 2017 Amazon did hold back on paying state taxes in 1995, but the company has been routinely collecting state sales taxes since then. In 2016, the company's report from the Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed it paid $412 million in taxes.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
eyecandylab CEO shows augmented reality during NAB
Robin Sho Moser, CEO and co-founder of eyecandylab gives an augmented reality demonstration at his booth during the National Association of Broadcaster Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Trends in access to capital for local black business owners
Denette Braud, owner of Braud’s Funnel Cake Cafe, talks about what owning her own business means to her.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Adobe unveils #HackTheBracket application for March Madness
Adobe unveiled their #HackTheBracket application at the Adobe Summit trade show at Sands Expo. People can use data from Adobe Analytics to make their bracket for March Madness. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Adidas Signs Yankees' Star Aaron Judge
Adidas Signs New York Yankees Star Aaron Judge The slugger is set to don a new set of stripes this season after signing with the apparel company. Aaron Judge Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal includes branding on his batting gloves and wristbands. Judge, the AL's reigning Rookie of the Year, was previously under contract with Under Armour since 2014. Judge won the American League Rookie of the Year award last season after setting an MLB record for most homers in a rookie season (52).
Esports athletes are sponsored, too
Meet Red Bull-sponsored professional esports player Daryl S. Lewis, better known by his in-game name Snake Eyez. Nicole Raz Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Bettor Investments turned into a bad bet
Bettor Investments formerly operated a Nevada-licensed entity betting operation. The company promised “conservative growth, profits and stability for our investors.” Matt Stuart, who ran the fund, shut it down in late 2016 and never made good on an agreement with shareholders.
Starbucks Will Give You $10 Million for a Better Cup Design
Starbucks Will Give You $10 Million for a Better Cup Design Get your thinking caps on because the company is looking for a new cup that's easier to recycle. The $10 million grant challenge sees Starbucks partnering with investor group Closed Loop Partners for the project. According to CNN Money, Aside from the new cup design challenge, Starbucks stated it will test a cup with an inner lining made from plant fibers to prevent hot liquid from leaking. Will you join the challenge for #Bettercups?
Las Vegas bartenders who worked the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival question what they were paid
Reneé Black, left, and her husband Griffin Black talk to the Review-Journal at their home in Las Vegas, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Reneé was a bartender at Route 91, and Griffin was a bar back. They were hired as independent contractors, but received forms months later indicating they were employees. They also were never paid their last day of tips. Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Bad-beat jackpot money will finally be awarded
People who thought they had won in Station Casinos’ “bad beat jackpot” poker promotion were unhappy. They waited months to get paid. And now the bad-beat jackpot is gone.
New developments coming to Las Vegas' Craig Road
Gina Gavan, economic and business development director for North Las Vegas, discusses new development projects on Craig Road in North Las Vegas. Art Marroquin/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
Dallisa Hocking And A Grandmothers Psychic Gift
Dallisa Hocking’s new “boutique soul center” pays tribute to her late Grandma Ellie. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Can't pay the IRS? You do have options
There's a little more than five weeks until this year’s tax filing deadline of April 17. But many small business owners are wondering, “How am I going to pay my taxes?” When owners haven’t set aside enough money to cover what they owe the government, they have options. — The easiest and cheapest alternative may be to dip into personal savings. — If you have available credit, you may want to borrow from a lender or credit card. — Also, the IRS can work out an installment payment plan.
Amazon Offering Discounted Prime Memberships to Medicaid Recipients
Amazon Offering Discounted Prime Memberships to Medicaid Recipients Individuals with a valid Medicaid or Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card The $5.99 membership can be renewed every year for up to four years. The reduced Prime membership comes with the same benefits of a standard one, including free two-day shipping, Prime Video, Prime Music and Prime Now. Last year, Amazon also joined a USDA pilot program that allows those receiving government assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to buy groceries through online markets like Amazon's FreshDirect or Walmart.
Jeff Bezos New Net Worth Revealed, Still Richest Man Alive
At the end of 2017, Bezos was estimated to be worth $112 billion, earning the top spot on Forbes' world's billionaires list. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the Amazon founder's net worth is now $127 billion, which the report states is the combined wealth of 2.3 million Americans.
Dick's Sporting Goods Ends Sale of Assault Weapons Florida School Shooting
Dick's Sporting Goods Ends Sale of Assault Weapons Florida School Shooting The retailer announced the move in an open letter and an appearance by CEO Ed Stack on 'Good Morning America.' Ed Stack, (Good Morning America) Ed Stack, (Good Morning America) Dick's is also ending the sale of high-capacity magazines and sales of guns to people under 21 years old. The company ended the sale of assault weapons at Dick's-branded stores after the Newtown, Conn. school shooting in 2012. However, they were still selling them at its 35 Field & Stream locations. Nikolas Cruz, 17, shot and killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14.
Black History Month panel gives Las Vegas entrepreneurs advice
Five people with experience in business and government spoke Friday to the Urban Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas Among their advice: line up potential clients before starting a business, attend networking events and seek advice from experts in the industry The chamber, founded in 1980, has hundreds of members and focuses on the welfare of black-owned businesses in Las Vegas
Nevada's tech talent
Nevada is 13,325 jobs short of the top 10 in-demand information technology ecosystem occupations.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like