After closing down its New Jersey-facing Ultimate Poker website in September of this year, Station Casinos, the casino company announced last Friday that beginning November 17, 2014 (Monday) the Nevada-facing Ultimate Gaming poker site will cease to operate as well. Actually, Station Casinos later made it clear that the company is in fact, closing down its online poker business division for good.
The Chairman of Ultimate Gaming, Tom Breitling, explained in a statement that the country’s online poker landscape, which allows only state-by-state regulatory approach for Internet-based gambling “has created an extremely cost-prohibitive and challenging operating environment,” particularly for online poker operators. He cited that lack of profitability was the main reason, as the actual online poker revenue collections in Nevada was quite a long way off from what was projected.
The Ultimate Gaming CEO said they came to a decision to cease operations because with all factors combined, making profit was both uncertain and difficult to attain. The Nevada online poker market became crowded with three virtual poker room operators, as Caesars’ WSOP.com and South Point Casino’s Real Gaming.com, later joined Ultimate Gaming in Nevada’s online gaming scene.
A.G. Burnett, the Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, acknowledges that the present online poker environment in the U.S. is hardly the most favorable for operators of regulated interactive poker facilities. He added that Nevada’s gaming regulators respect the decision arrived at by the management of Station Casinos.
Accordingly, Station Casinos attributes about $10 million of the company’s 3rd Quarter net loss to its online gaming business. Station Casinos Chief Financial Officer, Marc Falcone was quoted as saying, “the online gaming market has been a considerable disappointment.”
Adam Krejcik, a gaming analyst at Eilers Research said he was not surprised by Station Casinos’ decision, since Nevada’s small population cannot support more than one online poker room. He opines that the casino company is on the right track by focusing instead on its mobile sports betting and social casino gaming initiatives.
Ultimate Gaming may have been the first legal online poker to launch in Nevada and in the U.S., but the site went live with only the basics to offer its customers. Although it subsequently came up with improvements, the upgrades apparently, were not enough to keep its customers satisfied.
Although some of the players, who posted feedback at the Two plus Two poker forum threads said they were neither surprised nor sorry to learn of Ultimate Gaming’s shut down, some commended Ultimate Gaming’s good customer service and VIP program. Still, online poker website tracker, PokerScout.com, reported that in the recent past two weeks, Ultimate Gaming showed an average of only 60 players daily. Based on the overall report released by the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC), the combined turnovers of the three online poker sites in Nevada for a 12-month period ending September 2014, had amounted to only $11.07 million. The monthly revenues reported during the period were actually on a downward trend, as the combined turnover of $693,000 for September 2014 was the lowest ever reported by the NGC.
UltimateGaming.com is still up, allowing customers inquiring into their account to access the support section; but it is no longer operational as a virtual poker room.