Friday September 20 ,2013 : NEVADA ONLINE POKER TESTING WAS TOUGH, SAYS 888 C.E.O.
But absolutely worth it as WSOP.com takes off.
Brian Mattingley, the CEO of 888 Holdings and a key player through business partnerships in the evolving US online gambling market, spoke this week on his firm's experiences with American regulators.
Emphasising that the online poker software being deployed in partnership with Caesars Interactive Entertainment on the newly launched WSOP.com website in Nevada is highly sophisticated, Mattingley said that the Nevada Gaming Control Board was "rigorous" in its testing requirements.
He said the software is "…very complex and very sophisticated. There's 20 years of development embedded within that software. And therefore it's not just a matter of taking a deposit and making sure the poker hands are shown right. Beneath that are huge algorithms, etc., which continue to drive the business. So I think the tests which have been taken by the control board have been arduous, and they've done an excellent job in testing our software. I'm full of admiration for what they've done."
Explaining 888's non-exclusive relationships in the US market, Mattingley said that his company's relationships with Caesars Interactive Entertainment, WMS and Treasure Island were part of a strategy to create forward partnerships with potential clients or partners who might also be helpful in furthering 888's American ambitions.
"The U.S. Caesars Interactive [agreement] is a straightforward B2B contract where we power the online offer supplied by the WSOP. We have nothing to do with marketing or CRM. We are purely and simply the engine which is driving the WSOP," 888's CEO said.
"In the case of Treasure Island, we have an agreement with them to work on the back of their license so that we can launch the 888poker brand. That is now subject to verification and audit by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. As soon as the software has passed that specification, we can launch the 888 brand.
"The 888 brand runs under the AAPN (All American Poker Network) company which is an equity joint venture between 888 and Avenue Capital based in New York. That particular operation will be responsible for completing all aspects of the operation, such as powering the software, marketing, payments, etc.
"So the whole 888 operation and potentially another tactical brand that we will launch works on the back of the license with Treasure Island, and as part of the remuneration for Treasure Island to grant us that license, we have a B2B deal with them where we drive their poker network."
Mattingley also commented on the importance of interstate poker compacts in the US market, observing that such agreements will play a significant role in enhancing the business value of online gambling – especially in states like Nevada and Delaware.
"I think compacts will allow customers to enjoy a better experience when liquidity is improved," he noted.
Asked about preferences regarding the federal vs. state-by-state legislative solution for online poker, Mattingley said that federal solutions clearly offered advantages in terms of regulatory harmony, but that the evolution of a federal regulatory and licensing regime appeared to be a fading possibility, and that his company was therefore prepared to work with all state regulators in developing a better understanding of the company, its products and the industry.
Making an important point, Mattingley referred to his concern that people did not understand how seriously online gambling providers and operators take "….the controls, the checks and balances, or the actual monitoring of players that goes on with online gaming, which is hugely different for a person of an undetermined age entering a casino in Atlantic City or the Strip and playing with $5,000.
"We know our customers, we check our customers, and we do a phenomenal amount of research to ensure that those are bona fide customers. We monitor their play, and if there are any signs that there is a problem, we will talk to those customers and monitor them closely," Mattingley said.
"I'm not sure that those things are well publicized or recognized in the U.S. Certain people in the U.S. see online gaming as a massive potential problem. I think it's far from that. One of the things I would like to try to do is to educate our critics as to the safety of online gaming."
Discussing the opening of the New Jersey online gambling market later this year, Mattingley said that 888 will work with the World Series of Poker brand there, and will additionally launch its own 888 branded site through the AAPN partnership. He hinted that other operators "of significant size and interests" may also be in the frame.