Though internet gaming has only been up and running for two months in the U.S., it has already faced its first regulatory hurdle and a slew of technical glitches.
Ultimate Poker, which launched in Nevada April 30 to become the first legal online poker site in the U.S., has severed ties with unlicensed service provider Iovation after a probe by the state Gaming Control Board.
Iovation supplied its sophisticated security and player identification technology to Ultimate Poker as a subcontractor for CAMS/Verifi. Nevada’s internet gaming legislation restricts play to within its borders, along with other age and identity requirements. Though CMS has a license to operate in Nevada, Iovation does not.
The Oregon-based company has a questionable past—it was aligned with UltimateBet (no relation to Ultimate Poker), which was involved in a cheating scandal dating back to 2005. For two years employees of former UltimateBet owners—including Iovation CEO Greg Pierson—were able to bypass security and see the hole card of other players, reaping millions in illegal winnings. UltimateBet was eventually sold to Absolute Poker, and both sites were shut down by the U.S. Department of Justice crackdown in 2011.
Iovation’s involvement as a supplier for Ultimate Poker came to light within days of the site’s launch. Poker players pointed out the connection on several gaming websites and chat rooms, forcing the Nevada Gaming Control Board to step in.
As a result, Ultimate Poker, whose parent company is Fertitta Interactive, which is associated with the Nevada-based Station Casinos chain, dropped Iovation within days of player protests.
It is not the first issue Ultimate Poker has had to contend with. Though the site has proved popular among eager online players, some believe it was rushed to market in an attempt to be first before its technical issues were resolved.
Players have had trouble logging in as well as accessing the site from mobile devices. A compatibility issue prevented Virgin Mobile, Cricket and Verizon mobile users from being identified. In addition, gamblers that were attempting to log in along Nevada’s borders were having problems because cell phone towers in other states were picking up their signals.
Ultimate Poker has addressed those issues, fixing the log-in and compatibility problems. It is working on the geolocation issues as well, according to 4Flush.com.
Then there are the banks. According to Gaming Control Board Chairman A.J. Burnett, some banks were initially declining credit card activity associated with the poker site, because they have not installed the software that enables a computer to recognize a “7995 transaction.” The numbers are part of the string of numbers that identifies a legal transfer of cash for gaming purposes.
“It’s really a ramping-up process that will take a little time and education,” said Burnett. “But I think the biggest banks are well on the way to having the software in place because as internet gaming spreads, customers will be demanding it.”