Nevada became the first state to specifically legalize online gambling today, beating New Jersey to
the punch just 9 days after the bill was first introduced. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission stated that, “This bill is critical to our state’s economy and ensures that we will continue to be the gold standard for gaming regulation.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill earlier that would have given Atlantic City a head start, but he says that he will sign it after it is amended. That bill is expected to pass early next week. The Nevada bill not only authorizes intra-state gambling over the internet, it also authorizes the state to
enter into compacts with other states to offer Internet poker. There are currently 19 poker software, games, and technology providers licensed by the Nevada Gaming Commission so it shouldn’t be long before we see the first games in-state. License fees were set at $500,000.00 with Nevada Gaming Commission having the authority to change the price of a license. Renewal fees were set at $250,000.00.
Sadly, the UIGEA of 2006 is still poisoning the waters as the bill, “…also prohibits the issuance of a license to operate interactive gaming for a period of 10 years after the effective date of this bill for certain entities that, after December 31, 2006, operated interactive gaming involving patrons located in the United States.”
Today’s bill, Assembly Bill 114, was rushed through both the Assembly and Senate as an emergency measure. Now gambling regulators will have to devise regulations for interstate gaming compacts. Nevada passed a bill in 2011 that paved the way for online gaming but was dependent upon Federal law specifically authorizing it. That effort (Kyl/Reid) failed. A new direction was envisioned when the Dept. of Justice issued an opinion that year stating that the federal Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting.
Without the interstate compact provision Assembly Bill 114 would have been relatively meaningless as the tourist population is presumably busy gambling in the flesh and the resident population of Nevada was estimated by the US Census Bureau to be under 3 million in 2012. States that sign on with Nevada will have a mature regulatory framework on which to depend.