The Mission Statement of Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment is to “let the world play for real,” and their strategy is to focus on “regulated and to-be-regulated markets”, as stated on their website. Created when Bwin Interactive Entertainment and PartyGaming merged in March of 2011, Bwin.Party is now the world’s largest online gaming company listed on a National Stock Exchange, that being the London Stock Exchange. The company claimed revenue of more than €800 million in 2011, and is licensed for online poker and other online gaming in France, Gibraltar, Alderney, Italy and Denmark. So what does that have to do with Sacramento’s Thunder Valley Casino Resort and online poker in California? A great deal actually.
Their website states that Bwin.Party believes that adults should be able to legally play real money poker and other games “in land-based premises, on the internet or by phone”. And evidently they want a slice of the eventual pie they believe that California in the United States is going to serve up on the virtual poker and casino tables in the near future. As you may know, California is at the forefront of online poker legislation in the U.S., along with Nevada and New Jersey. How confident is the world’s largest listed online gaming company that playing poker legally online in California will happen sooner than later?
Bwin.Party just paid the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) an undisclosed amount of money for an exclusive 10 year license to provide online poker software to the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Sacramento, California when, and if, regulation ever allows for Californians to legally play online poker. And while there is no guarantee that will happen soon, or ever, Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger, CEOs of Bwin.Party, must believe that “appropriate online poker legislation is enacted in the Golden State” soon. No smart company shells out what is certainly a great deal of money for the right to do something several years in the future.
The UAIC is a Federally recognized Native American Indian tribe in the U.S., and Tribal Chairman David Keyser evidently thinks legalized online poker play will come soon to the Golden State. He says the UAIC has been shopping their license and some type of strategic online poker partnership for some time, and chose Bwin.Party because of their “unrivaled expertise in online poker, proven technology and player loyalty”. He also stated that the UAIC sees “… the legalization of Internet poker and other Internet gaming as being inevitable.” Current changes appear to be sliding into place to allow for some type of Californian online poker legislation, which would allow the UAIC to apply for and buy an online license.
So why California for Bwin.Party? California has the largest population of any state, and already has brick and mortar poker rooms. California has Federally recognized Native American Indian tribes with legalized brick and mortar casinos for gambling, and is pushing to get an online deal passed to help shore up local and state government coffers that are getting drastically low. Right time, right opportunity for Bwin.Party, and a win for Bwin, the UAIC, and for Californians when and if an online poker deal gets done.