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Caesars Entertainment was already leading the way into the online gambling era in the US, but a partnership with subsidiaries of Internet gaming giant 888 Holdings, has confirmed the company is preparing for US regulations. On Wednesday, the Nevada Gaming Control Board gave their approval to the business partnership.
Caesars has formed allegiances with Fordart Ltd., and Cassava Enterprises Ltd. The companies, which are subsidiaries of 888 Holdings, will help Caesars expand their World series of Poker brand while also allowing Caesars to operate in the UK market.
The partnership was not as big news as what one Gaming Control Board member said after the three person board recommended approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission.
“It’s a business to business agreement that would allow Caesars to offer games in the UK,” said Board member A.G. Burnett. “The UIGEA is vague at best and was done in haste and it’s passage forced (888) to abandon the US market to its detriment.”
Burnett’s comments fall in line with how Nevada officials have started to look at Nevada in recent years. Once vehemently opposed to Internet gambling, Nevada is now one of the states that is backing US regulation of the industry.
Senator Harry Reid, who had long been against online gambling, fearing it would hurt revenue at Nevada land-based casinos, pushed a bill at the end of last year that would have regulated online poker. The bill would have been defeated, but it did stir the pot once again for the Internet gambling discussion.
The move by Caesars is the most tell-tale sign to date that the US may be leaning towards eliminating online gambling prohibition. With many companies to choose from overseas, the partnership with 888 appears to be aimed at forming a relationship with one of the companies that did not accept US customers after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was created.
If regulations are approved for the US, companies that respected the intentions of lawmakers that created the UIGEA will likely be welcomed back into the market. Those that continued to offer online gambling to US customers are expected to be left out of the licensing process.
A bill is being drafted by Representative John Campbell, and co-sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank, that would essentially overturn the UIGEA and regulate Internet gambling across the board in the US. That legislation is expected to be unveiled sometime in April.
In the meantime, Caesars will have a leg up on other US-based gaming companies should those regulations take effect. Caesars acknowledged that part of the reason why they formed the partnership was because of the existing software and hardware that 888 brings to the table. If US laws change, Caesars will be better positioned to jump right in, without having to build their online platform from scratch.