ACEP buying in early to online free play

With poker having leveled off from the boom of 2005-10, the Stratosphere and its sister properties have boldly approached free play poker in lieu of eventual legalization for online play for pay.
“We’re one of the few actively pursuing a free online site,” said Alec Driscoll, director of gaming development at American Casino & Entertainment Properties (ACEP), the parent company of Stratosphere, Arizona Charlie’s East and West, and Aquarius in Laughlin. “It’s a great way of doing fun things in the casino and being on the cutting edge for online poker.”
The Nevada Gaming Commission approved ACEP as an interactive gaming operator on September 20, 2012 and the iGaming arm of the company officially launched its “free to play” poker website ( a little over three weeks ago on Feb. 12.
“We have promotional tournaments going on all day and a pretty recognizable building to market,” Driscoll told GamingToday. “We are really making a big push for NASCAR weekend (March 8-10) with plans for a nice Stratosphere vacation package.”
Stratosphere recently helped launch its online site with a celebrity poker tourney on, featuring headliner Frankie Moreno, soon to debut PIN UP show star Claire Sinclair, Chumley of Pawn Stars TV fame and the UFC’s Frank Mir. The winner received $5,000 for charity.
The free-to-play poker website allows the opportunity to play online 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The site provides online players with exclusive promotions, including show tickets.
“We saw the advantages to a free poker site,” Driscoll said. “I-poker is the future of the industry and this is our way of being in on it right from the beginning before others join in. It attracts the younger demographic who can play with friends and family all over the globe.”
Right now there is no tie-in to the World Series of Poker, but Driscoll believes the prizes currently available still draw people to their game.
“We are offering show tickets, weekend packages and a lot of rides with our Tower,” he said. “In the future we would like to use the WSOP as a way of attracting business, too.
“We’re totally focused on the free to play, but there’s no question once poker is legal online the game will get a huge kick start back to when it was at its peak in popularity.” has not yet been approved for international play. That is still in the process, pending an OK from the state’s gaming board.
“When Gaming says it’s OK, we will launch,” Driscoll said. “Poker is America’s game, a camaraderie game. Further technology is in the labs.
“When you go international there is the matter of making sure everyone is over 21, and that they have the correct passwords and log ins. All that takes time, but we think it will be done this year.”
Driscoll said the emphasis in online free poker has had a positive effect on the Stratosphere’s poker room.
“The feedback has been very much to our expectations,” he said. “We are able to promote the tournament in our poker room on our website. It’s exciting to be part of the next new thing in gaming for the U.S.”

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