PokerTek leads a growing market of electronic poker games

30 November 2006

Electronic multi-player table games (EMTs) are starting to gain traction in the casino industry. Electronic poker, blackjack and roulette tables littered nearly every aisle of the 2006 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas earlier this month. And electronic poker tables can already be found in several casinos.

PokerTek CEO Lou White, which produces the PokerPro electronic poker table, believes that the timeline for implementation of these EMTs in casinos will be directly related to the relationship between the player and the dealer in the game.

"In poker, there is no relationship between the dealer and the player," White says. "The dealer is simply there administering the game, and really the best they can do is not slow it down and not make a mistake."

White says this disconnect between poker player and dealer will help electronic poker tables take off.

The relationship between a roulette players and dealer is also fairly week, White says. The roulette dealer is seen more as the accountant for the game, while players feel that they are competing against the wheel.

But in blackjack, there is often a playfully adversarial relationship between the player and the dealer, because the player's hand competes with the dealer's hand. And because blackjack players have such a strong relationship with the dealer, it may be one of the last games to rely principally on a human dealer, White added.

PokerTek leads the way in a growing market
Two of three Detroit casinos have installed PokerPro tables since the company recently earned regulatory approval in Michigan, and the company has also brokered a deal with the Crown Casino in Australia in recent months.

The company, which already offers Hold'em games, has completed programming for Omaha games and produced a Heads-Up table. Both are currently undergoing testing by Gaming Laboratories International.

These announcements, however, have been muted by larger than expected third quarter losses, which sent PokerTek's stock price down by more than 25 percent in a week's time.

"We continue to believe that we're going to have 75 tables installed by the end of this calendar year," White says. "We already have the customers to (install 150 tables), and we believe that we're going to be a profitable company in 2007."

But PokerTek is facing stiff competition from some industry giants.

A salesman at DigiDeal, which featured a Texas Hold'em Digital Table System at the show, countered that most of his customers have said that they would wait for their table to be approved, since they already have a working relationship with the company.

And Shuffle Master plans on adding "Ultimate Texas Hold'em" to its Table Master line of EMTs.

White says PokerTek isn't worried about the competition.

"Anything that helps speed the adoption of automated poker is great for PokerTek," White says. "We have a clear lead in the technology, we have a clear lead in the regulatory approvals, we currently have 27 patent applications that cover a broad range of automated poker, and we're the only one that I know of that has any tables installed anywhere."


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