World Series of Poker close to launching real-money online games

Officials say they’re awaiting approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board

Jake Balsiger, left, Greg Merson, and Jesse Sylvia compete during the World Series of Poker Main Event final table at the Rio Tuesday, October 30, 2012.

Poker’s next world champion could emerge from a small buy-in tournament online.

If the World Series of Poker gets its way, soon will become the second website in Nevada to offer real-money poker games. WSOP officials said today they hope to launch the software during the 44th annual WSOP series, which begins May 29 at the Rio.

Ideally, they want the launch date to fall well in advance of the Main Event’s July 6 start so that players can try to win entries into the 10-day championship event through online satellite tournaments.

“Certainly that would be our druthers,” WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky said. “But we don’t remain totally in control of the process and timing of it all, so it’s hard to know.” has run an ad for a couple of months, teasing players that "online poker for real money is coming soon.” Ty Stewart, executive director of the WSOP, said the site is waiting for approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Those involved with the WSOP remain patient.

“We intend to be in this business 100 years from now so for us, it’s not about when we start,” Palansky said. “We just have a lot of boxes to check off to met the requirements, which is fine and it won’t be too much longer.”

That approach contrasts greatly to the one taken by Station Casinos’ Ultimate Poker, which openly stated its goal was to become the first licensed site in Nevada. Ultimate Poker succeeded, opening tables for play earlier this month.

But Ultimate Poker has encountered a fair share of issues, a fact not lost on WSOP officials.

“I think the market is ready for a first-class product,” Stewart said.

Stewart later took another swipe at Station by referencing a photo that was widely disseminated Tuesday of a glitch on one of Ultimate Poker’s tables. The photo shows a flop containing two of the same cards — the 9 of spades.

“We’ll make sure there’s only one 9 of spades in the deck,” Stewart cracked.

Stewart promised “a comprehensive series of promotions and benefits” on for players who compete in live events this summer.

Now, it's just a matter of getting the green light to deal the virtual cards.

“We’re not discreet when we have news to share,” Palansky said. “We’ll share it when we’re ready. We’re hard at work completing the necessary steps required to bring it to market. We can’t confirm an exact launch date, but we know it will be this summer.”

Tags: News, Business

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at