Shuffle Master Incorporated had already hired a team of designers to create a multiplayer gambling platform and prepared for the launch of their interactive division long before the US Department of Justice (DoJ) permitted states to regulate online poker gaming.
Castle, who had left Zynga in October to join Shuffle Master, said: “Come February, you’ll see a lot of activity in Nevada around legal online gaming. Some people will jump, we’ll certainly be ready. The question is which companies will want to go first.”
Shuffle Master isn’t the only company looking for a share of the market; a number of online gaming operators, vendors, and software providers are eager to grab a share of this market, which is worth several billions of dollars.
A recent DoJ statement modifying the interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act and making it legal to bet on non sports activities opens innumerable opportunities for the industry, enabling US states to create regulatory frameworks for online gambling this year. Large gaming companies such as MGM Resorts, International Game Technology, Shuffle Master, and Caesars Entertainment will be the first to grab their share.
US-based gambling companies have already begun getting into strategic alliances with offshore gaming sites, most of them UK based. For instance, Boyd Gaming and MGM have teamed up with Bwin.party Digital Entertainment to operate online gaming sites on US soil.
The District of Columbia and Nevada are well ahead of other US states in the matter of legalizing and regulating online poker, but analysts predict that a number of revenue hungry US states can move much faster than Nevada, giving poker-loving Americans a chance to play legal poker online early this year.
Major gaming sites have their eye on poker since the US online poker market is believed to be worth $6 billion every year, revenue that is now flowing into the coffers of offshore gaming companies. The industry is expected to become as large as $10 billion. Richard Bronson, the chairman of US Digital Gaming, said: “2012 is going to be known as the year the online gaming industry in America was really born. I’m sure at least two states are going to join Nevada in approving online gaming.”
Simultaneously, online poker legalization still has its opponents in the US. For instance, Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands, said that he will not support the legalization of online poker as he believes that technology cannot prevent gaming evils.