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Nevada OKs Online Gaming Rules

Nevada OKs Online Gaming Rules

Now that the U.S. Justice Department has upheld its legality (see page 18), Nevada could become the first state to offer online poker in the United States.

The Nevada Gaming Commission in late December unanimously approved rules that would regulate and control the online activity. The Nevada Gaming Control Board, which promulgated the regulations, announced earlier in the month that five companies had applied for licenses to operate the games.

The online poker rooms would only be able to operate within the borders of the state, and companies operating the sites would have to demonstrate that their systems would be able to limit betting to Nevada residents or visitors.

The bill designating the Nevada regulatory agencies to establish online gaming regulations also stipulated that the state could only legalize online gaming if it got the blessing of the Justice Department. Mark Lipparelli, the chairman of the Gaming Control Board, predicted the DOJ would deem it legal since the state has offered other intrastate online wagering without any federal objections. Now that the Justice Department has weighed in, it’s likely that Nevada will act quickly to become the first state to host online gaming.

Prior to the Justice Department action, Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard didn’t predict legalization anytime soon.

“There’s not going to be anyone turning on machines to gamble on the internet, either interstate or intrastate, on poker in the near future,” Bernhard said. “But at least the framework is there to allow the process to continue so we’re ready when and if an applicant before us meets our standards.”

The failure of Congress to pass a bill legalizing online poker could spur an avalanche of legalized online gaming on a state-by-state basis. After Nevada, the New Jersey legislature is likely to legalize online gaming. Iowa and California have each debated online gaming/poker bills in the last year and are sure to take them up again in 2012.

Most experts expect state legalization will force Congress to reconsider its current ban.

“I think it will be a domino effect,” said Richard Bronson, a former executive with Wynn Resorts who now runs an online gaming company, U.S. Digital Gaming.