Ultimate Poker launch exceeding expectations, says Station Casinos

15th May 2013 9:56 am GMT

US casino operator Station Casinos said that the launch of its real-money online poker offering in Nevada has exceeded expectations, with the company continuing to eye opportunities to expand its reach to other US states when legislation allows.

Through its majority owned subsidiary Fertitta Interactive, Station Casinos' Ultimate Poker became the first to launch regulated interactive poker in the US late last month under an operating licence from the Nevada Gaming Commission.

The product must pass through a 30-day field trial, during which the Nevada Gaming Control Board will look for feedback from players and other interested parties to allay or highlight any concerns or issues about system security, privacy protection, gaming integrity, and location verification among other things. After that, the Control Board and the Gaming Commission will grant Ultimate final approval, or not.

“Our unmatched online real money poker experience has been very well received by the public, with nearly one million hands of online poker dealt to players since the launch," said Marc Falcone, Station Casinos' executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer. "We believe that owning our technology is a major advantage, as it allows for continuous investment and product development.

"The team at Ultimate Gaming worked closely with state gaming regulators to monitor and approve the technology, and we seek to constantly improve our system and enhance the customer experience with new features, games and platforms. The soft launch of our platform in April has exceeded expectations, and we are committed to expanding our presence in Nevada while, at the same time, expanding our reach to other states as online poker becomes legalized on a broader scale."

Falcone made the statement following publication of the company's first quarter results yesterday, which showed a 2 per cent drop in revenues to $311.8m. Station Casinos said that its results were impacted by a combination of the increase in social security payroll tax, federal tax refund delays and one less day in February this year versus last year.

Including the results of Fertitta Interactive, consolidated net revenues were $312m and consolidated adjusted EBITDAM was $95.6m for the quarter, up 0.5 per cent year-on-year.

Q1 2013 Results

US Dollars (US$)  Q1 2012Q1 2013
Net Revenues 318.2m311.8m
Operating Costs and Expenses 260.2m264.1m
Operating Income 58.5m48.2m
Net Income/(Loss) 6.8m(140.8m)

"Results improved meaningfully in March, and our focus on managing costs led to an 80 bps increase in EBITDAM margins, our highest quarterly margin reported in three years. We remain optimistic that improving macro fundamentals coupled with our strong margins should result in improved operating performance throughout 2013,” said Falcone.

The company recorded a net loss of $142.1m compared to a net income of $8.9m a year ago, having incurred a loss on debt extinguishment of $146.8m during the period.

During the quarter, Station Casinos completed a $2.475bn global refinancing which consolidated its capital structure.

As at March 31st the company had an outstanding principal balance of long-term debt of $2.17bn on a consolidated basis.

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