A year and a half ago, the South Point casino was the talk of the poker world when it was granted the first online poker license in the United States. It was exciting; South Point was developing its own software and planned to be the first to market. Now, quietly, South Point Poker is finally live, the third online poker room to launch in the state of Nevada.
There has been no fanfare – it is a “soft launch,” meaning that it is essentially a live, public test run with the anticipation that the site go full speed ahead should no problems crop up. Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “This is a regular field trial of their I-gaming poker platform and will be monitored closely. Assuming a successful launch and field trial, South Point is now the third poker offering for Nevada players.”
South Point Poker’s software platform is custom-developed, as opposed to most offerings in the United States so far (Ultimate Poker excluded) which use pre-existing software from online gaming companies. Also departing from the norm, South Point’s client platform is web-based, not a downloadable software package, allowing for play on all sorts of devices, like PCs, tablets, and phones. It appears that during the soft launch, Hold’em is the only game offered, at stakes ranging from $0.01/$0.02 on up to $5/$10. Sit-and-Go’s are also on the menu, but just six-max and heads-up right now. Multi-table tournaments look to be offered later.
As with the other Nevada Poker rooms, Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com, South Point Poker’s offering is restricted to players within state borders. The way South Point verifies location is interesting, though. Players must download an app to their Android phone or iPhone and then login to South Point’s poker room, RealGaming.com. Once a game is selected, players must click the “SMS” button on the screen to be sent a text message. The text message on the phone will contain a link which will load the downloaded location app. This app will then provide a token which can be entered on the game screen.
It seems like a lot of steps just to play poker, but it will likely become pretty simple for most players. Of course, the problem is that people must always have their smartphone with them to play. This process must be done every time a player logs in.
As already mentioned, South Point was the first in the Nevada to receive a license (August 2012) and expected to be the first to market. It ran into much longer than expected delays in the independent testing process, something every licensee must go through to be able to launch their online poker room. South Point’s custom software likely had much to do with these delays. In October 2012, South Point’s Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Vaughan told VegasInc.com, “We feel we could launch today. But you’ve got to go through the independent testing labs, you have to satisfy the State Gaming Control Board and because we are the first, we’re going to be under the microscope. They’re going to prod us every which way, and that’s good. We don’t want to come out and fall flat on our face and be an embarrassment for Nevada.”
Instead, South Point fell flat on its face by taking over a year to finally launch.