Jim Ryan, CEO of bwin.party recently shared his insight into the future of online gaming legalization and regulation in the US and how his company is prepared to capitalize on the very promising upcoming US market. We will summarize some key points he made in his interview with PokerNews.
Ryan offers a detailed analysis of the situation and his view is that the passage US poker legislation is only a matter of time:
“Well, I guess our perspective is really quite simple. For many years it was a question of if the U.S. government — either at a federal or state level — would regulate online gaming. We don’t think that’s the case anymore. We think it’s a question of when.”
“Why do we think that? Let’s take a look at some of the industry players in the United States. We saw Caesars make an announcement about acquiring a poker platform. We’ve seen the IGT and Entraction deal. We’ve seen the Fertitta Interactive and CyberArts deal. And as you probably know, we’ve been in the process of marketing Ongame Network, and all the interested parties in that particular asset have been coming from the United States.”
“You take that level of activity and combine it with various state efforts that have been initiated since the Dec. 23 DOJ opinion. We’ve seen five states introduce poker bills: New Jersey, Iowa, Hawaii, Mississippi and California. We’ve got Nevada which actually passed a law in December. And then we’ve had much conjecture that there very well could be a federal bill kicking around.”
“That’s a pretty impressive list of events that would lead one to believe that we’re likely going to see poker be legal in the U.S. in some way, shape or form.”
Gibraltar-based bwin.party, which became the largest gambling company in the world after the merger of bwin and PartyGaming, formed a partnership with brick-and-mortar casino giants MGM Resorts International and Boyd Gaming in October 2011. Part of the deal is that the each casino owned by MGM and Boyd can use the bwin.party network to host their own branded skin. With this move, bwin.party is poised and ready to move in to the US market whenever legalization comes to pass.
bwin.party will be sure to try to use their public brand-name awareness as a powerful muscle when making its push into the prospective US market. “We went to the consumers and listed all of the existing U.S. and former U.S. poker brands,” said Ryan. “That included the likes of PokerStars, Full Tilt, PartyPoker, and World Poker Tour. What was fascinating to us was, despite not having advertised in the market for over five years, PartyPoker was No. 3. And not by a great gulf, either — the brand recognition was significant. No. 5 was the World Poker Tour. Poker Room was No. 8. So when we go into this market, we go in with some pretty strong assets, and nicely positioned.” Readers will be reminded that PokerRoom was one of the key sites on the OnGame network, operated by bwin.
Ryan said when asked about a prospective date for launch, “I think a realistic perspective is that a 2013 launch is pretty sound. At the very least there will be a few states that will have it available at that point in time.” In the interview he mentions the difficulties posed by regulated markets and meeting the technical standards for each regulating body, citing the various European markets as examples, such as Italy, France, Denmark and Spain. Ryan sees Nevada and California as very promising markets, with a combined population of about 38 million, and hopes that cross-state arrangements will take place to make the player pool as large as possible, what he sees as a key to success in the online poker market.