Station Casinos subsidiary Ultimate Gaming announced late Friday its decision to shutter the first online poker enterprise to launch on the Nevada legalised internet poker scene, Ultimate Poker.com, after just on eighteen months of operational activity
The decision follows a similar withdrawal by the company from the New Jersey online market back in September this year, when its partner the Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy (see previous reports).
Ultimate Gaming management said that the operation had battled to make a profit due to the limited pools of players available in ring-fenced individual state markets.
His view was confirmed by David Schwartz, director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Center for Gaming Research, who said he didn’t believe anyone who entered the US online legalised marketplace expected that online poker would be limited to just three states.
“I think the future has got to be a bigger market than Nevada,” he told the Associated Press news agency. “In the big picture, Americans have shown they like playing poker online.”
The Nevada regulator will monitor and audit the shutdown to ensure that all players owed will be paid and the state receives tax revenues due, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said in a statement.
Explaining the background to the shutdown, Tom Breitling, chairman of Ultimate Gaming, said in a statement:
“As has been the case in other jurisdictions, online poker revenues in Nevada have fallen far short of original projections. Moreover, the state-by-state approach to online gaming has created an extremely cost-prohibitive and challenging operating environment. These factors have combined to make the path to profitability very difficult and uncertain. Consequently, we have decided to cease operations.
“We are grateful to the Nevada Gaming Commission and Gaming Control Board for allowing us to be the first company to operate online poker in Nevada and greatly appreciate their leadership and support as the first state to license and regulate online poker. We are working closely with the Gaming Control Board to ensure a smooth transition for our customers as we cease Nevada operations.”
Real Gaming from South Point Casino and the World Series of Poker through Caesars Entertainment are now the sole remaining operators in the Nevada online poker market, although industry reports suggest that illegal offshore operators continue to attract Nevada players with a wider variety of promotions, prices and tournaments.
The independent online poker monitor Pokerscout lists Ultimate’s average number of cash game players over a seven day period at just 60, trailing behind more recently launched competitor WSOP.com, which deployed considerably more advertising and promotional activity. By comparison, Bodog accesses a far wider pool of players and records 1,450 cash game players using the same criteria.
Ultimate Poker, WSOP.com and Real Gaming had combined Nevada revenues of only $693,000 in September this year…the Nevada regulator does not release individual financial numbers for the sites.