The talk of the town in Las Vegas is the recently signed bill that paves the way for legalized online gambling in Nevada. But you won’t see Vegas-based virtual casinos sprouting on the web anytime soon. What you will see, however, is a certain increase in free-play online casinos, and one of Las Vegas’s premier portal and information web sites recently got in the game.
Until the Nevada Gaming Commission starts divvying online casino licenses–and it’s in no hurry to do so–Internet gambling is still a no-no for Vegas properties. But in the absence of real-money virtual casinos, the next best thing is a free-play casino.
Such web sites can offer free versions of the same casino-style games that are offered for real-money play by thousands of sites located outside the United States, and they’re being utilized as promotional tools for the time being. And while you can’t make real-money bets, you can win real-money prizes at many of the sites.
The latest Las Vegas-themed free-play casino comes from Vegas.com, a high-traffic site offering Vegas and gambling-related information and promotions. The operators of the site, which is affiliated with a number high-profile web publications, including the online version of the Las Vegas Sun daily newspaper, announced on June 14 that they’ll soon feature “upgraded ‘for-fun’ Internet casino games.”
The new cybercasino, to be known as “Play 4 Fun” is expected to open its doors by August and will invite visitors to partake in blackjack, slots, video poker, roulette, baccarat, craps and keno. The games are currently being developed by Internet Gaming Software Solutions of Toronto. Vegas.com says it will be the first commercial site to use games developed by the company.
The first well-publicized, free-play, Vegas-themed online casinos came from casino operators MGM Mirage and Harrah’s Entertainment. MGM Mirage, which runs several Strip properties including Bellagio, MGM Grand and the Mirage, broke through last August with WagerWorks.com, a virtual casino featuring online versions of games created by gaming machine manufacturer Silicon Gaming.
Harrah’s followed soon thereafter with an online Slot Deposit Pulsa casino of its own, this one stocked with games designed by Chartwell Technology Inc. Of particular interest in terms of peering into the future is the fact that the same software powering Harrah’s free-play site is also used to operate several real-money online casinos.
It’s expected that more Vegas casinos will get their feet wet with free-play games, although none have tipped their hats as of yet.
Vegas.com, meanwhile, may end up standing as one of few free-play Vegas-themed casinos not run by real-world casino companies. The site’s biggest competition in that department is rival Vegas portal LasVegas.com, which in February announced plans of launching a similar site, also to be powered by Chartwell software.