Nevada Online Poker Review: Reno CEO’s About-Face on Internet Gambling, Revenue Numbers Finally Released

Written By Steve Ruddock on April 3, 2014
adelson online poker talking points nevada revenue

Even though the debate over online gambling continues to rage on (Sheldon Adelson was apparently very sincere when he proclaimed he was going to fight online gambling to the bitter end) the most talked about stories coming out of Nevada over the past week has been in regards to the recent revenue numbers for February, which for the first time included the state’s online poker numbers.

In this installment of the Nevada Online Poker Review we’ll breakdown those revenue numbers for both land-based and online gambling; we’ll also discuss the CEO of the Atlantis Reno, John Farahi’s newfound opposition to online gambling; and we’ll fill you in on the latest tournament results, traffic numbers and gossip coming out of Nevada including potential strike by a union with 37,000 members.

Farahi explains new stance on online poker

Last week we brought you the news via Jon Ralston that Atlantis Reno owner John Farahi had come out against online poker in the state. In detailing Farahi’s opposition I brought up the interesting angle to the story explaining how the Atlantis Hotel and Casino (under the name Monarch Casino and Resort) had applied for and received an online poker license in Nevada.

As Ricky Ricardo would say; someone has some splaining to do!

Farahi was willing to explain his new position, as he spoke with the Reno Gazette Journal recently, and in an article published on Monday explained his flip-flop on the issue.

“We used to be for it, but we found out poker is being used as a tool to jar the door open to wide-open online Internet gaming,” Farahi told the newspaper, right before launching into Sheldon Adelson’s talking points almost verbatim: “How do you control a person who comes home from work and blows the paycheck?” Farahi said. “Or someone not 21 years old?”

Farahi isn’t the only casino owner to change his stance on online gambling. Earlier this year Steve Wynn came out against online gambling, but unlike Adelson and Farahi, Wynn wasn’t worried about the morality of the industry, his concerns were almost purely economic, as he said he just didn’t see a feasible revenue stream from the fledgling industry.

Nevada casino revenue plummets in February

The most recent revenue figures for Nevada’s gambling industry showed a steep decline in year-over-year revenue for the month of February. Actually, a decline is probably not a strong enough term to describe the near 14% drop the report revealed.

The hardest hit area was the Las Vegas Strip, where revenue was down some 20% year-over-year (nearly $700 million in 2013 and just over $550 million in 2014) while Downtown Vegas showed a slight boost in revenue, with revenue increasing about 3%.

The revenue figures may not have been what the industry was hoping for, but it may not get quite as much negative attention as it normally would as the report also contained Nevada’s much anticipated online poker revenue for the very first time.

Online poker revenue numbers

As mentioned in the previous header, for the first time since its launch in April of 2013 we are finally able to see the revenue numbers from Nevada’s online poker industry.

The reason for the long wait was because Nevada regulators came up with the arbitrary threshold of needing three online poker sites before they would release the revenue data, and with the recent launch of South Point Poker’s Real Gaming in February the Nevada market reached three providers — and Ultimate Poker being the other two.

As far as the numbers went, they were pretty much in line with what analysts expected to see, as total revenue since launch was $8.5 million.

Unfortunately, the NGCB did not break down the revenue by operator, so the best we can do is speculate based on the information in the report and the traffic data available.

Weekly Guaranteed Tournaments in Nevada Sunday $15K Guaranteed

89 players registered for the $215 $15k Guaranteed at this past Sunday, creating a total prize-pool of $17,800, with a player using the screen-name “cantfakeit” taking home the largest share, pocketing just over $5,000 for the win.

There was one well-known player at the final table, as Christina Lindley finished in 6th place.

  1. cantfakeit – $5,073.00
  2. naifliest – $2,937.00
  3. aggie69 – $1,780.00
  4. rprops – $1,424.00
  5. PaulDewald – $1,228.20
  6. Christina “lindeyloo” Lindley – $1,050.20
  7. fbpoker – $872.20
  8. Villain – $605.20
  9. jchak – $480.60

WSOP Main Event Satellite

Another Nevada online poker player has punched their ticket to the World Series of Poker Main Event, as the player “orono” won this week’s satellite tournament.

There was an even larger overlay ($1,600 compared to last week’s $1,400) than last week as one less player registered for WSOP Main Event qualifier this week.

  1. orono – $10,000 WSOP Main Event seat

The $10K Guarantee tournament at Ultimate Poker

This week the $10,000 guaranteed at Ultimate Poker saw a nice increase from last week’s 88 registrants, as 103 players showed up this past Sunday to partake in the event. the 103 entries still wasn’t enough to reach the guarantee, but fell short by only about $600.

  1. VegasPlayer $2,893.10
  2. DonkeyDik $1,811.90
  3. Thekat $1,361.40
  4. Honey Badger $910.90
  5. maddogjim $730.70
  6. Gametime $550.50
  7. JCarver $370.30
  8. Gerald $280.20
  9. allinallen $190.10

Traffic trends in Nevada

Over the past week traffic at and Ultimate Poker ticked up ever so slightly, as average cash-game traffic at rose from 95 to 100 players, while Ultimate Poker had a similar increase, going from 65 to 70 players according to

South Point’s Real Gaming online poker site continues to be a non-factor with average traffic still sitting at 0.

The word on the street

Culinary Union OK’s strike

One of the strongest unions in Nevada, the Culinary and Bartenders Union, has voted to strike against 10 Las Vegas casinos according to multiple outlets.

All 10 of the casinos are located in the Downtown area, and includes landmarks like the Golden Nugget, Binions, El Cortez, and the Four Queens.

The Union has reached an agreement with Las Vegas Strip properties.

What is the reason for the strike? It seems the two sides are at an impasse (the current contract expired in June of 2013), and the union has now cut off contract talks with the sticking point being health care.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve is a well-recognized voice in the regulated U.S. online gambling industry. He writes for a number of online and print publications including, USA Today, and others, with a focus on the legal market.

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