Nevada Creates History; Becomes First US State to Legalize Online Poker

February 25, 2013

After months of debate and speculation, it is Nevada that has beat out other states such as New Jersey to be the first in the US to legalize online real money poker. Until recently, it was New Jersey that was constantly in the news and who, industry pundits predicted would be the first, especially after Governor Christie confirmed that he would sign the bill provided a few amendments were made.

However, with the strenuous efforts of Governor Brian Sandoval and bill sponsors, Jon Kyl and Senate Leader Harry Reid, Nevada, which is home to Las Vegas, the casino capital of the world, has created history. Although the bill has been approved, lawmakers believe that it could be months before online real money poker services are offered.

Nevada Poised to Offer Inter-State Online Poker Services

Along with offering internet poker services to the residents of Nevada, the bill also allows the state to form partnerships with other US states, which have legalized online poker, so as to offer the same services to the residents of those states as well. This means that states can piggy-back on the regulations formulated by the Nevada Gaming Commission instead of creating their own.

One of the important factors that will help Nevada speed up the process of offering internet poker services is that its gaming commission has already formed a regulatory framework and issued over 15 licenses to reputed poker operators in 2012. It is only due to technical issues faced by companies such as South Point Poker, that there is a delay in the launch of poker sites.

Other states such as New Jersey and Delaware, although they are forging ahead to legalize online poker and offer such services respectively, the gaming commission of these states are nowhere as prepared as that in Nevada. With the bill, these states have the option of forging business relationships with Nevada and have their residents access the sites approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

New Jersey and Delaware Bolstered by Nevada’s Progress; NJ Governor Christie Anxious to Sign Amended Bill

Governor Christie was, until recently, dead set against the prospects of legalizing online gambling in New Jersey, citing reasons such as the adverse effects on the businesses of land-based casinos in the state. Nevertheless, the governor is now in full support of internet gambling and gave a conditional veto to the proposed bill stating that a few amendments have to be made, after which he will sign the bill.

With high expectations that New Jersey would be the first to legalize online gambling, leading internet poker operator, PokerStars is in the process of acquiring its first land-based casino in Atlantic City. One of the demands of Governor Christie is that poker operators will have to form partnerships with land-based casinos is they hope to offer internet real money poker services to the residents of New Jersey. Governor Christie, sources say, is anxious to sign the amended online bill so as to rev up the process that will bring about millions in state revenue.

Delaware was one of the first US states that has supported online gambling since the US DoJ amended its Wire Act and declared that gambling done on an online platform, save for sports betting, is legal in the country. The state of Delaware passed the internet gaming and real money gambling bill early last year.

One of the prime concerns of lawmakers in Delaware is that online players should be of legal age to access the sites. In lieu of this, the state is keen on the licensed poker operators in the state to use sophisticated global positioning systems so as to determine whether the player is within state boundaries. This, experts say, is possible irrespective of whether players are using their computer systems or mobile phones.

Governor Brian Sandoval Relieved; Cites Nevada as Gold Standard in Gaming and Gambling

Governor Sandoval has been focused on the internet poker bill for quite some time. Last year, the entire online gambling industry waited anxiously for the bill to make its appearance, but were disappointed when several issues, including political indifferences and spats, created obstacles for it. By the later half of the year, attention had carried over to the US Presidential Elections.

Through it all, Governor Sandoval declared that Nevada would come through and offer online poker services to its residents. According to Sandoval, state revenue would be bolstered significantly with this bill and revive the economy by flooding it with an unprecedented number of job opportunities. According to financial analysts, the shares of the gaming companies that have received licenses to operate in Nevada will experience a considerable boost in prices.

The new bill does not require approval from the DoJ or federal legislation to activate the numerous internet poker licenses that have been issued by the Nevada Gaming Commission in the past year. It is inevitable that online gaming companies will make a dash to submit license applications to the commission as it will be a significant point of entry into the US gaming market, which is considered a highly lucrative customer base, and until now has been untapped.

Although it will be a few months before the sites are launched, Governor Sandoval is thrilled that Nevada continues to be the gold standard in gaming. The governor is also aware that the state will come under the spotlight when the sites go live and that the shortcomings will be highlighted by the critics.