|Las Vegas casino Binion's Horseshoe introduced a 'play for fun' website last week as a dry run before launching a real-money Internet casino for foreign gamblers. |
If it does so it will follow in the footsteps of MGM MIRAGE, which launched its gambling site, www.playmgmmirage.com, for non-US gamblers. A Company affiliated with the Venetian resort revealed in August that it was investing in an Internet gambling business for non-US gamblers and had applied for an Internet casino license from a regulated jurisdiction abroad. Park Place Entertainment Corp. has also applied for a license abroad.
One of the few big name casino companies to jump off the Internet casino bandwagon was Station Casinos Inc., which recently put its Internet gambling development program on ice.
Binion's has had an information-only website for several years and broadcasts its annual World Series of Poker live on the Internet.
The play-for-fun games will allow Binion's to collect email addresses from players for future marketing purposes, Binion's Information Technology Director Federico Schiavio said.
Like MGMís online offering, Binion's planned play-for-real Internet casino wouldn't accept bets from the US, where Internet gambling remains illegal. The company also isn't interested in limiting bets to Nevada, where regulators are currently deciding whether to legalize in-state Internet gambling by Nevada residents.
'We don't want to do something to upset the regulators,' Schiavio said.
Moves by several casino companies to launch free, 'for-fun' gambling on their websites prompted the Nevada Attorney General to issue an opinion stating that players can't receive prizes based on the outcome of a game -- even if no money was wagered.
The casino will have a built-in customer base of international gamblers who are already familiar with Binion's and its poker championship, Schiavio said.
Irish-based Access Gaming Systems Ltd., a transaction processing software company that serves Internet casinos, interactive television networks and lotteries, is managing Binionís online casino. The site is hosted from a computer server in Australia, where Internet gambling is regulated.
Access said Binion's is the first American casino operator to use the company's system, which is licensed to casino operators in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia.
The Australian host location could allow the Binion's website to tap into a lucrative Far East customer base, Schiavio said.