Top-10 brick-and-mortar and online gambling partnerships to watch in the U.S.

22 April 2013
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation announced today that Foxwoods Resort Casino has selected GameAccount Network to provide online gambling software, should the casino gain access to a regulated U.S. market.
Foxwoods isn't the first land-based casino to announce plans to launch online gambling operations when laws allow them to do so. Ever since the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was reinterpreting the Wire Act and that it should only apply to sports betting, casinos have been chomping at the bit to gain access to an American online gambling market.
Some states (Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey) have regulated online gambling. Others aren't far behind, and there's still an outside chance for federal legislation, though it would most likely only include online poker.
Here are the top-10 partnerships to watch for as the U.S. regulates online gambling.
10. Mohegan Sun/Amaya
Foxwoods wasn't the first Connecticut casino to announce a deal with an online gaming partner. Mohegan Sun opened a play money online poker room up with Amaya (previously Ongame) earlier this year. Mohegan Sun has an advantage over Foxwods, as well, as it has a Pennsylvania property and hopes to build properties in Massachusetts and New York. If it does, it could quickly become a northeastern regional power in online poker.
9. Station Casinos/Ultimate Poker
Station Casinos announced a partnership with Full Tilt Poker just two weeks before Black Friday, and then retracted that deal immediately upon the indictment of Full Tilt executives. Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta (aka "The Fertitta Brothers"), however, weren't ready to give up on the business. The founders of Zuffa, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championships, have named their online poker venture Ultimate Poker, and unlike other Nevada casinos, Station Casinos will be developing its own poker room rather than relying on offshore companies that have been in the business for years.
Ultimate Poker made a big splash earlier this month when Station Casinos announced that Big One for One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari would be serving as the company's spokesman. Ultimate Poker currently has a Facebook app but does not have a download version available.
8. Zynga/
Best known for its Facebook time-wasting games like Farmville, Zynga is already offering real-money poker and casino games in the U.K., through its sites Zynga Plus Poker and Zynga Plus Casino thanks to a partnership with If and when Zynga is able to secure online gambling licenses in the United States, it may be able to leverage its incredible player database to convert some play money heroes into real-money cash cows.
7. Foxwoods/GameAccount
Foxwoods is the largest casino in the United States, and third largest in the world. While your physical footprint doesn't matter in online gambling (PokerStars' only physical presence is the tiny Hippodrome Casino in London, but it still manages to do pretty well), reputation does. There aren't many gamblers who haven't at least heard of Foxwoods, and the casino's player database is massive.
6. Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs already has some online gambling offerings up and running with Twin Spires, where you can bet on horse races, and, where you can also bet on horse races but the user interface makes it feel like you're playing a lottery. Churchill Downs has big plans for online gambling, and those plans go beyond horse racing. While we're not aware of any deals currently in place, the site previously offered free-play slots provided by Parlay Games.
5. The Bicycle Casino
The Bicycle Casino has one of the largest poker rooms in the United States with 105 tables. And California could be one of the largest and most lucrative online poker markets in the world, if the California legislature could get its act together and regulate the industry. (I. Nelson Rose has a theory that could explain why that hasn't happened yet.)
When it does happen, the Bicycle Casino will be in prime position to leverage its reputation as a live card room in the online space. The casino will also be able to market a free spot in its Live at the Bike webcast series, giving people incentive to try out the online game.
4. Wynn Resorts
Right before Black Friday, Steve Wynn and PokerStars announced a blockbuster partnership. Then, just like the Fertitta Brothers, Wynn had to backtrack in the aftermath of Black Friday. It took a long time to convince Wynn that online poker was good for brick and mortar gaming companies. And while he had to backpedal on his deal with PokerStars, I think he still believes that online poker can be a lucrative business. Wynn doesn't currently have a public agreement with an online gaming provider, but don't expect that to last.
3. MGM/Boyd/
Live players will have plenty of reasons to play online games offered by this partnership. Between Boyd's B Connected and MGM's M life, gamblers will have loads of places to spend loyalty points they earn in online games. And when it comes to poker, Party Poker is looking to return to its pre-UIGEA spot at the top of the online poker world, as evidenced by its deal with Zynga. This agreement could make that a reality.
2. The Atlantic Club/PokerStars
Ever since Black Friday, American online poker players have been clamoring for PokerStars to return to the U.S. market. And if PokerStars' purchase of The Atlantic Club Casino in Atlantic City is approved by New Jersey regulators, residents of the Garden State may actually see it happen. While PokerStars is still wildly profitable even without the U.S., the company made billions from American players after publicly traded online poker firms left the U.S. after the passage of the UIGEA in 2006. It surely would make billions more if it could find a way to serve U.S. players again, and the Atlantic Club could be transformed into the poker hub of Atlantic City.
1. Caesars/888
There are Caesars properties in a dozen U.S. states, and Caesars owns the most important brand in poker, The World Series of Poker. Once Caesars is able to leverage that brand – especially with advertising during ESPN broadcasts of the Main Event – look for 888 to jump from fifth to second in terms of size in the online poker universe. And if federal legislation were to somehow find a way to pass in the U.S., and PokerStars was left on the outside looking in, 888 could very well become the largest online poker network in the world.

Aaron Todd

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Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.