The United States is trending toward legalized gambling, both online and off. Recent legislation in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada authorized the creation of state-based gambling websites. A caveat: any such American site must be affiliated with a brick-and-mortar casino in that same state. On April 30, 2013, Nevada became the first state to operate a legal online gambling site. That site is called “Ultimate Poker.”
America's online gambling policy is “intrastate” as opposed to “interstate,” meaning the only people legally permitted to cyber-gamble on a given state's website are those who are physically contained within the borders of that state. Users of Ultimate Poker, for example, must be located within the boundaries of Nevada in order to play. In other words, someone in North Carolina, New Mexico, or any other state besides Nevada could not legally log on to the Ultimate Poker site to gamble.
While the site is primarily a Texas Hold 'em venue, speculators believe it won't be long before slots and table games become regular fare on U.S. gambling websites. As Ultimate Poker's saga unfolds, it will set a precedent for the development of other casino-affiliated websites that crop up in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada. If things go well for the casino industry, more states will soon legalize online gambling as well.
GPS Technology Used to Monitor Customers' Whereabouts
Not so long ago, the proprietors of a site like Ultimate Poker would not have been able to pinpoint the exact geographical location of their customers. Today, with the invention of GPS technology, it's easy for website administrators to find out exactly where their customers are located. There's no way to outsmart this regulation, either; the Ultimate Poker site does indeed verify its players' whereabouts using cell phone GPS technology.
Affiliation with Station Casinos
Ultimate Poker is the brainchild of Fertitta Interactive, the corporate parent of Station Casinos. Station Casinos is based in Summerlin, Nv., and owned by Frank Fertitta, Jr. The expanding company has acquired at least 17 brick-and-mortar properties, ten of which are located in Las Vegas. Some of Station Casinos' most notable Las Vegas facilities include the Red Rock Casino and Resort, Green Valley Ranch, and Palace Station Hotel and Casino.
The Inception of America's First Online Gambling Site
Ultimate Poker got its start as a free game on a social network. On June 22, 2012, Fertitta Interactive launched the game as a Facebook app option (read this) in which no real money changed hands. The intent behind the app was to introduce people to the game, which would later become available online for real cash.
In October 2012, Fertitta Interactive received a license to operate the United States' first legal online gambling site, UltimatePoker.com. The site went live at nine in the morning on April 30, 2013 and was immediately flooded with customers, some of whom were already familiar with the game through the Facebook app. The first 30 days of the site's operation are considered to be a trial period; after the period is over, it will be decided whether the site can continue. The owners of Fertitta Interactive are hopeful about the future of Ultimate Poker in spite of criticisms that have been piling up since its opening day.
Criticisms of Ultimate Poker
Almost as soon as it went live online, critics have been pointing their fingers at the website's many shortcomings. The game is too slow, the interface is not ideal, and the website in general has an antiquated feel. In contrast to offshore sites, hand histories are difficult for patrons to locate. Not all types of poker games are available on the site, as they are on the many offshore gambling venues available to Americans. The laundry list of complaints goes on and on. Station Casinos chief marketing adviser Joe Versaci says the shortcomings are intentional, however. He says the most important thing to Station Casinos is that they were the first in history to sponsor a legal American gambling page. As time progresses, Versaci says the criticisms will be resolved and all details will fall into place. In fact, he says that more exciting features and options will soon be on their way.
What Ultimate Poker Means for the Future of American Online Gambling
When it comes to legalized online gambling sites, America is still in its infancy. UltimatePoker.com has the distinction of being the first legal online site, but it is just one of what will probably become a long list of online casinos with ties to American soil. Because it is the first of its kind, gamblers and business leaders alike are watching carefully to see how Ultimate Poker will fare. If it does well, chances are high that American gamblers will soon be able to enjoy activities like roulette, blackjack, and slot machines from the comfort of their homes as well.
Ultimate Poker and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006
In 2006, the United States passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or UIGEA. The act prohibited the transaction of money via the Internet for gambling purposes, but was vague enough to result in misinterpretations and the formation of loopholes. One significant loophole is the fact that intrastate gambling, like that of Ultimate Poker, is still legal.
In response to the act, many overseas gambling sites prohibited Americans from gambling on their sites. This prohibition left a gaping hole in the industry which now may begin to be filled by intrastate gambling sites like Ultimate Poker.
Station Casinos: Paving the Way
For years, citizens in the United States have enjoyed playing slots, table games and poker on offshore-based websites, but the legality of such activities has always been murky and unclear. Station Casinos' Ultimate Poker is paving the way for a more confident gambling experience for Americans, one in which legality is not questioned. Certainly there are flaws to be ironed out, but businesses like Fertitta Interactive stand to make great profits from this new online adventure in American gambling.