With a deadline of January to complete and ratify regulations that would control online gaming in Nevada, Lionel Sawyer & Collins held a seminar for members of the media last month, outlining the proposed rules. Led by gaming law veteran and LSC partner Robert Faiss, the sessions focused on uniquely Nevada terms such as “foreign gaming” and “suitability,” as well as compliance, licensing levels and requirements for online operations.
The regs clearly favor the existing casinos in Nevada. Companies eligible for licensing must have held a non-restricted gaming license for at least five years, which is a license to operate a large casino. The only way around that is for the federal government to set up a similar licensing procedure for companies to receive federal approvals.
The regulations stem from a bill passed by the Nevada legislature in the last session, which is actually an amendment to the 2001 law that permits online gaming in Nevada, but which didn’t set up any regulatory framework. The bill is clearly designed to give Nevada a leg up in the race to approve online gaming in the U.S. and to perhaps make the Nevada regulatory system responsible for any federal oversight.
Mark Clayton, a former gaming control commissioner now employed by LSC, said the first state to capture the market is going to have a “tremendous advantage,” citing the employment, technology and infrastructure improvements that will come with such a move.
Randolph Townsend, a former state senator and now a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission, took it one step further. He called the legalization of online gaming “absolutely crucial” to the future of the state’s gaming industry.
“Online gaming grows the market in a way that nothing else will,” he says. “It might be counter-intuitive, but when you consider the great brands that Nevada casinos represent, the technology will grow the market and bring many more jobs to the state.”
To legalize online gaming, however, the current law required the U.S. Department of Justice to issue an opinion that intrastate online gaming is legal within that state. And there is no indication whether that will be forthcoming from this administration or any other.