Nevada Gaming Board Approves Relationship Between 888, Caesars

This week, Nevada’s Gaming Control Board approved “the suitability of a relationship” between U.S.-based Caesars Entertainment with “subsidiaries of an Israel-based Internet gaming company operating in the United Kingdom’s overseas territory of Gibraltar,” writes Richard N. Velotta at the Las Vegas Sun.

That Internet gaming company is 888, or, more specifically, 888’s business-to-business online gaming software subsidiary, Dragonfish.

The relationship must now be approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission, which is scheduled to consider the matter on March 24. If approval is granted, “it would be the first relationship approved for a Nevada licensee with a foreign Internet gaming provider,” Velotta adds.

“The recommendation is viewed as a big step for Internet gaming because it enabled state regulators to formally acknowledge the ability of government entities to oversee online gambling,” Velotta continues.

So far, Caesars reps haven’t elaborated on exactly what sort of business partnership they’re entering, although Mitch Garber, CEO of Caesars Interactive Entertainment, has said that Ceasars would “continue to utilize its World Series of Poker and Caesars brands in overseas markets through its relationship with 888.”

“The news follows Caesars’ increased activity in other European markets, including agreements with Microgame in Italy and Barrière in France,” EGR points out.

But what matters more is that, increasingly, officials in the U.S. are accepting the inevitable truth: Online gambling must be regulated in the United States, and that will involve foreign companies as well as American companies.

“It was a historic moment,” Garber said of the vote. “It confirms that Internet gaming is a reality. It should allow us to look more and more at a federally regulated environment in the United States.”

“In 2002, we didn’t have a lot of knowledge about how this would work,” Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli said in Velotta’s article. “But in nine years, we’ve learned a lot more.”

UIGEA “vague”
Here’s the catch: The Control Board members who approved the relationship “took great pains to explain that they only were approving of Caesars’ relationship with the 888 subsidiaries and not recommending licensing them and that the end result won’t have any effect on American consumers,” the article adds.

“It’s a business-to-business agreement that would allow Caesars to offer games in the U.K.,” board member A.G. Burnett said prior to the vote. “The UIGEA … is vague at best and was done in haste and its passage forced (888) to abandon the U.S. market to its detriment.”

“To use a baseball analogy, I’d say we’re in about the third inning on working through the issues of Internet gambling,” Lipparelli said just before the vote was taken. “It’s an evolving discussion and an evolving set of standards.”