Not to be outdone by PokerStars’ recent move to enter the U.S. market, Full Tilt Poker has announced plans to do the same, and in much the same way that PokerStars is doing.

The situation
Worldwide, Full Tilt Poker is the second most trafficked online poker room, behind PokerStars, which holds the top spot. Per PokerScout’s numbers, though, PokerStars’ traffic is more than double Full Tilt’s. As of today, April 6, 2011, PokerStars was listed at 39,079 players versus Full Tilt’s 18,375.

Still, in this case, second place is a pretty big deal, and Full Tilt is plenty competitive in the market. It’s that factor that may be propelling it to follow in PokerStars’ footsteps as the larger site prepares to fight to get new regulations in the U.S. that would allow regulated online poker.

The deal
Specifically, Full Tilt has struck a deal with Fertitta Interactive, a company co-owned by land-based casino interests.

The deal is a partnership to launch and operate an online poker website — that is, “if the activity gains federal approval,” as Howard Stutz in the Las Vegas Review-Journal puts it.

To that end, a main point of the partnership is to back federal legislation to regulate and fully legalize online poker in the United States. And that puts Full Tilt on the side of Caesars, which is currently fighting the same fight: To get regulated online poker in the U.S. as a whole, and not state-by-state.

The plot thickens
For its part, PokerStars is backing legislation that would only regulate online poker in Nevada, in a partnership with casino mogul Steve Wynn.

But, as Nevada is America’s gambling hub, it’s presumed that the company could parlay such legislation into a new, federal patchwork.

But Ceasars is resisting state-by-state solution, as we’ve explained here at And whether this new Full Tilt partnership works with them specifically, they’re both now essentially fighting the same fight.

“We believe that a federal law for online poker is the way to go,” said Fertitta Interactive co-owner Tom Breitling. “We do believe that a federal online poker bill would be good for Nevada. Nevada is a leader in gaming regulation, and we need the thousands of high-paying high tech jobs and the millions in tax revenues associated with online poker.”

“Under the agreement,” Stutz concludes, “if federal legislation passes and appropriate gaming licenses are acquired, FullTilt Poker and Fertitta Interactive would jointly operate an online poker site.”

Full Tilt is currently licensed in Alderney, a UK dependency. And, as Stutz also points out, the Aldernay Gaming Commission “recently announced an information sharing arrangement with the Nevada Gaming Control Board.”

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