Is the gaming board giving 888 and Bwin.Party a free ride?

In the race to be the first company to bring an intrastate online poker system live, land-based casinos may be bedding down with some pretty shady characters.

Worse than that, state gaming commissions don’t seem to care whether or not the new breed of online partners carry reputations that wouldn’t beĀ  tolerated under normal circumstances.

This is just one of many revelations that come from a Reuters report titled, Vegas Casinos Game on Online Partners with a Past, by reporter Joseph Menn. In his lengthy, and meticulously researched article, Menn suggests states are willing to look the other way at operators who have a shady past.

Given the number of jobs and tax revenue associated with online gaming; and the reputation of companies like Bwin.Party, disagreeing with Menn’s conclusions is pretty tough.

Bwin’s Back

One company Menn mentions that should be very familiar to gaming affiliates is Bwin.Party. Bwin.Party has long been accused of unfair business practices and predatory behavior by the affiliate community. But that hasn’t stopped the company from striking huge deals with California Indian Tribes and MGM Resorts to develop online poker systems. Worse yet, none of their previous actions seem of any concern to gaming regulators.

Menn, and other critics, suggest that if Bwin.Party were applying for traditional license, their past indiscretions, such as settling with the DOJ on fraud and gambling charges. But Chairman of the Gaming Board, Mark Lipparelli disagrees, “I don’t think as we look at companies that we can have perfection as the standard, because I think that would be a disservice to the state in attracting business here.”

888

888 is another company whose previous actions, including a negotiated settlement with the DOJ over their practice of taking action from US players after 2006. Today, 888 is partnering with Ceasars to bring their online poker site to life. The company’s been getting so much attention from land based casinos the past few months that company CEO, Brian Mattingley has publicly compared 888 to, “The prettiest girl in town.”

Finally

The intrastate poker race is a lucrative one and, from a distance, it certainly seems as though gaming commissions are giving 888 and Bwin some very friendly treatment. Menn’s story provides much more detail on the licensing process than we could include in this space and we highly encourage CAP members to read his piece in its entirety.

Do you think online gaming companies are getting special treatment from gaming regulators? Share your opinion with us on our Online Gambling Laws and Regulations Forum.


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