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Bally Positioning for NGC Decision – Strikes Web Poker Deal

You may recall last week we reported that Bally Technologies had been unanimously approved by all members of the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) to receive the first ever interactive gaming supplier license in that state. Ever since Nevada passed legalized online poker legislation for its residents and visitors earlier this year, companies have been in a mad rush to court the NGCB, in the hopes of becoming the first to secure an online poker gaming license in that state. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) in December of last year reversed their years-old opinion on the legality of online gambling in the United States, and now allows each individual state to decide its online gambling future.

Since the ruling, Nevada was the first, and so far the only, state to legalize some form of online gaming. Online poker was legalized, and there has been a mad push ever since from online and offline gaming and casino entities to secure the all-important first ever Internet gaming license that would position themselves as leaders in what appears to be a multibillion dollar US online gambling market. Sometimes however, merely asking out the high school prom queen is not enough to guarantee a date. The hopeful high schooler who can secure approval from Susie Q’s mom moves to the front of a crowded pack of potential suitors, and that is exactly what Bally Technologies has achieved with their NGCB approval.

What appears to be a done deal still has a slight chance for failure. After all, Suzie has the final say so in who will take her to the big dance. Accordingly, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) meets on June 21 to consider the proposal by the NGCB. In advance of that, Bally Technologies has been hard at work ensuring their desirability in the eyes of the NGC. We are still a good four to six months away from actual online poker play in Nevada, according to politicians and other pro-poker proponents in that state, but this would be a huge pot for Bally Technologies to take down. And with their recent partnership with Aristocrat and Shuffle Master, the Las Vegas-based gaming company that has been around since 1932 is attempting to leave nothing to chance.

Aristocrat Technologies and Bally Technologies have entered into a three-way partnership with Shuffle Master, and the new entity will allow Bally to add Shuffle Master’s Ongame Poker software to their iGaming online gaming suite. Kelly Shaw is the VP of Systems Sales and Marketing at Aristocrat, and she believes that Ongame Poker is a perfect match for their nLine web gaming entity. John Connelly is Bally Technologies VP of Business Development, and he said that Bally and Aristocrat both agree that the Ongame online poker product is one of the leaders in the industry. The Bally/Aristocrat deal with Shuffle Master will allow Bally to sell online poker casino software packages to those upcoming companies which purchase Nevada Internet gaming licenses and open online poker rooms.

Connelly went on to say that this deal would allow cross-promotional possibilities to exist between brick-and-mortar and online casinos. Obviously, all players involved are putting the most positive spin on this new partnership. But it is hard to see any negatives from this last-minute effort by Bally Technologies to secure guaranteed acceptance by the NGC as the first company to receive an Internet gaming license in Nevada. June 21 is less than a week away, and it appears Bally is strengthening their hand considerably ahead of the impending decision.