PPA on Ultimate Poker Closing: “Being First Does Not Equate to Being the Best”

4

One of the major headlines of November was the departure of Ultimate Gaming from the Nevada market. The company, which left New Jersey in September, said of shuttering its Nevada site, “The state-by-state approach to online gaming has created an extremely cost-prohibitive and challenging operating environment. These factors have combined to make the path to profitability very difficult and uncertain. Consequently, we have decided to cease operations.”

PocketFives’ news coverage is brought to you by William Hill Poker, one of the largest skins on the iPoker Network. The poker room offers a generous welcome package including a 200% deposit bonus up to $2,000 and a superb VIP program. Visit William Hill today!

PocketFives caught up with Poker Players AllianceExecutive Director John Pappas (pictured), who, while running around Capitol Hill, was kind enough to lend his thoughts on the first regulated online poker site in the US closing its doors after a year-and-a-half. “We were disappointed to see that it was shutting down,” Pappas told PocketFives. “I think it’s a lesson that being first does not equate to being the best.”

Many players in the industry critiqued Ultimate’s software specifically, although the site’s customer service was largely second-to-none. Pappas explained, “They had a lot of challenges on the technology side, the software side, and getting customers because of that. It wasn’t sustainable for them.”

On the external side, according to Pappas, “There’s still a very difficult environment in those small states like Nevada to attract a core mass of players to get liquidity to offer a compelling product. That’s why we’ve argued we need a national network for online poker. I think this was a business case study for why a national network is so important. That can be achieved federally or by states doing aggressive compacting.”

Will Ultimate Poker closing in Nevada affect other states like California and Pennsylvania, which are contemplating regulating the game? Is Ultimate’s closing in two states a black eye for the industry? “I don’t think it’ll have an impact,” Pappas confidently said. “I don’t know this is forcing closing the door on Ultimate being a product again, either. I hope they retry and I hope they’d be interested in markets like California where you have a larger player base to begin with. In every industry, there are companies that succeed and companies that fail. This is a lesson the industry is learning.”

Pappas and the PPA have long pushed for federal regulation of online poker due to the benefits of increased liquidity. “We have a small sample size today, but poker-only on a state-by-state basis without any compacts is not sustainable,” Pappas told PocketFives. “If larger states like Pennsylvania, New York, California, and Illinois take products online, that dynamic could very well change. As of right now, we know in small states, it’s difficult.”

He added, “Customers who want to play deserve a regulated environment. We would encourage every state to move in this direction. It’s not the state’s job to ensure that businesses make money, but they can set the regulatory regime up so that businesses can succeed. Then, it’s up to the businesses to grow the market internally.”

Visit PocketFives’ Nevada poker community for the latest news and discussion from Nevada members.

Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.

4 COMMENTS

  1. One day somebody important is going to wake up and realize that PokerStars is the only viable solution to making money with poker on the internet. Life is about making deals…I wish somebody would make a deal…or at least wake up.

    • One day somebody important is going to wake up and realize that PokerStars is the only viable solution to making money with poker on the internet. Life is about making deals…I wish somebody would make a deal…or at least wake up.

      In the US, PokerStars would face the same macro issues that Ultimate did – smaller player pools, different regulations in each state, etc. They’ll likely be ahead when it comes to software and customer service, but they’d still need to adapt to the US. They won’t magically have thousands of players online in one state the day after they open.

    • In the US, PokerStars would face the same macro issues that Ultimate did – smaller player pools, different regulations in each state, etc. They’ll likely be ahead when it comes to software and customer service, but they’d still need to adapt to the US. They won’t magically have thousands of players online in one state the day after they open.

      Agree to disagree.