Over the course of about six months, the Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment, Inc. division was established with ex-PartyGaming executive Mitch Garber as its new CEO, the company signed an agreement with Dragonfish, a subsidiary of 888.com, and launched its inaugural online casino website. Caesars Online Casino went live in December of 2009, and though it will not cater to United States customers until the laws are gaming friendly, the quickness with which Harrah’s put together the interactive division and first website was an indication of the company’s seriousness about establishing a place in the worldwide market.
When Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment (HIE) was formed in May of 2009, Garber was firmly in place as its head and made an almost immediate decision to move the company’s offices to Montreal, Canada. The decision, Garber stated, was because his long-time home was Montreal, but it seemed logical that he also wanted to do business in a country that was gaming-friendly and stay out of the way of the U.S. Department of Justice, though lobbying by Harrah’s on behalf of pro-gaming legislation would continue in the halls of Congress. “Our intent,” he said, “is to deal with government and licensing authorities in every jurisdiction to grow the World Series of Poker.”
It only took several months for an agreement to be ironed out and signed with Dragonfish, an independent division of 888.com, which is also home to Pacific Poker. The long-term contract assured that the company would provide Harrah’s with poker and gaming software, along with payment processing capabilities, customer service, and VIP services. 888’s CEO Gigi Levy stated that the plan was for their B2B division to realize its “full potential over the next 18 months and beyond,” though it seems it only took a few months to be prepared for the launch of Caesars Online Casino.
The new online casino is set up to offer a number of casino-style games, such as blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, video slot machines, three-card poker, and Caribbean poker. However, the full poker site to offer hold’em and other poker variations is not prepared to launch at this time. U.S. customers are not permitted to partake in any of the online activities. When U.S.-based computers log on to the site, they are almost immediately redirected to a website featuring Caesars hotels.
By staying far from the U.S. market, Harrah’s may be positioning itself to surface in the U.S. when legalized online gambling becomes law in America. Its reputation thus far for respecting current law, despite its ambiguities, undoubtedly garners Harrah’s a clean entrance into the market when it opens to online gaming websites. The next step for the company is likely the World Series of Poker branded online poker site aimed at European consumers, and all of the efforts of the company will eventually lead to the U.S. market.