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Internet poker: Will players see more mobile apps?

Originally published on Technorati

Philadelphia Flyers wing Scott Hartnell shakes hands with Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo after eliminating him from the NHL Charity Shootout to win at the World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 17, 2009.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Last year, Caesars Interactive Entertainment, a subsidiary of the world’s largest gaming company, acquired the rights and ownership of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) mobile application.

According to Caesars' press statement, buying the WSOP mobile app enables it to “expand its presence in free-to-play social and mobile gaming.” The poker app is being developed by a group of 19 Canada-based game developers. The company’s Playtika division will operate the mobile venture as a free-to-play social game.

The WSOP application is available on the Facebook platform, Amazon Kindle, Android, and all IOS devices. The WSOP game launched in 2012 and has since been downloaded more than 6 million times.

The WSOP series of poker tournaments began in June in Las Vegas and will continue through early July. The main event will have a buy-in of $10,000 and nearly 7,000 players are expected to participate in a prize pool that could approach $20 million.

“The catalyst for the deal was the acquisition of certain World Series of Poker game assets and intellectual property from Electronic Arts,” the company announced. Under terms of the deal, Electronic Arts transferred global rights and ownership of its WSOP game for mobile devices and Facebook.

Caesars continues to lobby lawmakers to legalize online poker in the United States. However, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (Dem., Nevada) believes that passage of such legislation is highly unlikely. Earlier this month, Reid said “I felt for several months now that I don’t see any movement on this. I don’t see anything happening.”

There has been much discussion by players in forums about the potential legalization of online poker two years after the U.S. Justice Department shut down sites such as PokerStars and Full Tilt. But at least with this congress, the era of online poker, at least in the U.S., appears to be over.

Local politicians in states such as Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are attempting to pass legislation that would legalize Internet poker within their jurisdictions. However, such efforts have been met with stiff resistance. In Illinois, state senator Terry Link estimates that online gambling could generate between $400 million and $1 billion in new government revenue each year. In 2012, the online poker industry totaled $33.8 billion around the world.

In 2014, Illinois expects a backlog of $2 billion in unpaid bills to vendors.

In 2006, congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 which outlawed Internet betting sites. However, officials in Massachusetts argue that the federal law is not effective at stopping thousands of its citizens from playing internet poker through illegal offshore-based sites. Thus, they argue it should be legalized, regulated, and ultimately taxed.