For Now, at Least, This Online Gambling Outfit Holds All the Cards

The first company to offer legal online gaming in Nevada, just sealed a deal in New Jersey
The Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City Photograph by Wayne Parry/AP Photo

As online gambling goes legal at the state level, only one U.S. company has so far managed to shuffle virtual decks for lawful players. Ultimate Gaming, based in Las Vegas, began accepting wagers from players in Nevada on April 30 and recently announced that it had dealt its six-millionth hand of online poker to gamblers in the state. Yesterday, Ultimate Gaming announced a further milestone: The company has signed an agreement with Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal to supply a range of online-casino games and poker to players in New Jersey.

The deals give Ultimate Gaming a temporary monopoly, but tough competition lies ahead. Though online gambling is currently legal in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, it is available only in Nevada, as the other two states work to commence operations later this year. One advantage Ultimate Gaming has to offer is its unique technology for tracking players to make sure they are within state boarders, a key provision in the federal law that allows states to offer online gambling. “Ultimate Gaming is a pioneer in the online gaming space and can provide a turnkey solution for our online gaming needs in New Jersey,” said Trump Entertainment Resorts Chief Executive Officer Robert F. Griffin in a statement.

Other casinos, however, are lining up deals with foreign online gambling platforms. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is partnering with Gibraltar-based, while Caesar’s Entertainment, the world’s biggest casino company, says it will team up with Gibralter-based 888 Holdings, which operates gambling sites in Europe. Meanwhile, Isle of Man-based PokerStars, an international online poker giant, is still fighting to buy the Atlantic Club.

The Caesar’s deal may mean especially tough competition, says Jennifer Webb, an analyst with Gambling Compliance, which tracks the global gaming industry. ”Caesars has a really strong brand because they own the World Series of Poker,” she says. “They have a following off-line now. They also own a number of casinos in the Atlantic City market, so they will be able to leverage that with promotions, etc.”

According to the Press of Atlantic City, New Jersey’s online gaming may bring in revenues of anywhere from $200 million to $2 billion annually.