Nevada Gambles on Online Poker
On February 21, 2013, the Nevada State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 114, a measure which allows state Governor Brian Sandoval to enter into contracts with other states permitting individuals to gamble in online poker games across state lines.
In theory, the law was passed to protect consumers and reduce the amount of illegal online gambling. In pertinent part, the bill states: “A comprehensive regulatory structure, coupled with strict licensing standards, will ensure the protection of consumers, including minors and vulnerable persons, prevent fraud, guard against underage and problem gambling, avoid unauthorized use by persons located in jurisdictions that do not authorize interactive gaming and aid in law enforcement efforts.” Later, it reads, “The state of Nevada leads the nation in gaming regulation and enforcement, such that the state … is uniquely positioned to develop an effective and comprehensive regulatory structure related to interactive gaming.”
The law effectively acts as an end-around certain laws prohibiting the practice – previously, the Nevada Gaming Commission was not allowed to issues licenses for operating online poker facilities without some form of permission by the federal government (i.e. through explicit legislation allowing the practice or by seeking approval from the U.S. Department of Justice). Now, the commission can not only issue these licenses, but is given the authority to regulate and vary license renewal rates. A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Board, believes that the move could be very profitable for the state – he estimates that a global market for licensing online poker games could amount to tens of billions of dollars.