WMS Industries, American Casino & Entertainment gain preliminary approval for online gaming

WMS Industries Inc., and casino operator American Casino & Entertainment Properties LLC are a step closer to joining a select group of companies after the Nevada Gaming Control Board Thursday recommended approval of their applications for interactive gaming licenses.

The state’s Gaming Commission could consider both applications at its Sept. 20 meeting.

Nevada is the first state to legalize intrastate online wagering, and the five-member commission began issuing online poker licenses in June.

As of Thursday, Las Vegas-based Bally Technologies Inc., Global Cash Access Holdings Inc. and Shuffle Master Inc., along with International Game Technology and Monarch Interactive Inc. of Reno have been licensed.

The gaming commission in August also approved South Point Poker LLC’s application to be the first licensed operator of an intrastate, real-money poker website.

Orrin Edidin, president of Waukegan, Ill.-based WMS Industries, said the move into online gaming was a “natural evolution” for putting the companies content “into this space.”

WMS Industries, a designer and developer of gaming products, was recommended as an interactive gaming system manufacturer and as a service provider.

ACEP was recommended as an interactive gaming provider. The company owns the Stratosphere and two Arizona Charlie’s casino in Las Vegas and the Aquarius in Laughlin.

Phyllis Anne Gilland, a manager with ACEP, said the company was negotiating with an online provider. She didn’t identify the company.

ACEP will launch a free play poker site by the end of this year, and with final regulatory approval launch a real-money poker website sometime next year, the company said.

Gilland said offering free poker was “a good place to start.” ACEP will market the poker site to its database of players from its players’ club, PLAY.

“It’s a new chapter in our company’s history, one we can use to enhance our existing properties,” said Alec Driscoll, director of gaming development at ACEP.

Separately on Thursday, the control board recommended Fifth Street Gaming LLC’s applications to take over gaming operations at the Gold Spike in downtown Las Vegas and Siegel Slots and Suites in North Las Vegas. The Siegel Group Nevada Inc. owns both properties.

Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street, said each casino’s lease is for two years, and includes rent payments and management fees. No financial terms were disclosed.

Schorr, whose company expects to open the redeveloped Downtown Grand by late fall of next year, said the Gold Spike’s hotel and restaurant are successful, but its casino has needed to be upgraded and marketed to the community.

Schorr’s planned takeover of the Siegel Slots and Suites will have to wait about 60 days while repairs are made to the casino’s roof after it collapsed during a recent rain storm. Gold Spike will have 300 slots and four blackjack tables, while Siegel Slots & Suites is slots only, according to gaming regulators.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

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