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Nevada Issues First Online Poker Licenses

Move helps Nevada 'maintain leader' role, says Sandoval

The Nevada Gaming Commission has unanimously approved online gaming licenses for two gaming equipment manufacturers, which will provide online systems for internet poker within the state.

Bally Technologies, headquartered in Las Vegas, was the first company to be licensed, followed by International Game Technology of Reno.

Bally CEO Richard Haddrill said his company has contracted with the Golden Nugget to provide an internet poker product, which debuted last week in the “free play” mode. He said the company is negotiating with other prospective customers.

Robert Melendres, executive vice president of emerging businesses for IGT, said his company also is on track to provide its system to customers.

The U.S. Justice Department has determined internet gambling across state lines is illegal, but several states have interpreted the decision to allow online play within the borders of a state where gambling is legal, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said he has been working on state approval of online gaming since 2002.

“I’m determined that Nevada maintain its position as leader of gaming in the world,” Sandoval told the Nevada Appeal, adding that “the process went so smoothly it didn’t gain much attention.”

According to the Tahoe Daily Tribune, online gaming could stoke Nevada’s sagging job market, which has the support of U.S. senators Harry Reid and Dean Heller.

Randy Fine of the Fine Point Group, a gaming consultant firm, told Fox Business that online poker would be “very additive to state budgets.”

“I’ve heard estimates of online poker being a $6 billion-a-year business,” Fine said. “If a state could take a third, that’s $2 billion.”

But Doug Walker, an economics professor at the College of Charleston, said, “It is unlikely that online gambling will lead to significant increases in jobs, but generally, more economic activity is better than less.”

Delaware has legalized online gaming within its borders, and other states including New Jersey have similar bills pending and could soon follow suit, but federal laws that would legalize and regulate interstate online gambling are hung up in Congress and face opposition from state lotteries and the Indian casinos, the Tribune reported.

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