888 preps for Nevada hearing; Caesars plans online satellites for 2013 WSOP

caesars-888-nevadaUK online gambling operator 888 Holdings will have its application for a Nevada interactive gaming service provider license considered at the next Nevada Gaming Control Board monthly meeting starting March 6. (Also up for consideration this month is the application by Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.) Assuming 888 passes muster with the GCB, the state Gaming Commission will make the final call on March 21.

888’s date with the GCB will be the first former US-facing operator to be grilled by Nevada regulators. 888 withdrew from the US market in October 2006 following passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and thus can’t be tagged with the dreaded ‘bad actor’ clause of Nevada’s online gambling legislation. However, 888 has never reached a make-good financial settlement with the US Department of Justice similar to those inked by the likes of PartyGaming and Sportingbet.

888 has a deal to provide the online division of US casino giant Caesars Entertainment with a poker software platform. Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE), which has already received its Nevada online license, hopes to launch online poker operations under Caesars’ World Series of Poker (WSOP) brand in Nevada this year. But Caesars CEO Gary Loveman revealed this week that the company is also tweaking the online poker platform of French outfit Barrière Digital, to which it will eventually transfer its online poker operations.

There’s no firm date for when the Caesars/888/WSOP online product might make its Nevada debut, but the Twitter feed of CIE/WSOP communications director Seth Palansky alluded to the idea that Nevada residents might be playing online satellites to qualify for this summer’s WSOP main event. After several other prominent members of the Twitterati suggested the 2014 WSOP was a more likely target, Palansky tweeted that he “may take your wagers on 2013.” Palansky acknowledged that “there are things out of our control…but we are chomping at the bit to go!”

Further evidence of said chomping came this week via news that California-based independent advertising agency Zambezi had won the CIE creative account. Zambezi’s CIE efforts will encompass TV, radio, out-of-home, events and digital components. CIE marketing VP Michael Staskin there would be “a lot of off-line marketing to really capture the locals that live here in Nevada.” Staskin also told Ad Age that in the wake of Nevada and New Jersey’s high-profile online gambling legislative efforts, “we anticipate that other states will fall like dominos and we will be prepared to be in all of those states when it happens.”