Casinos To Receive Online Poker Licenses This Fall
Nevada To 'Explore' Possibility Of State Partnerships
The World Series of Poker may be over for the summer, but the game is still taking center stage in the Las Vegas gaming world. On Wednesday, the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee, led by Gov. Brian Sandoval, met again to discuss intrastate web poker in a public setting.
The first industry of its kind in the U.S. could be underway before 2013. Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli, one of 11 members on the panel, said that the first real-money operator licenses, which are reserved exclusively for casinos, will come through in 60-90 days.
So far, just three companies (Bally Technologies, International Game Technology and Shuffle Master) have been given approval to provide Internet poker software to Silver State casinos.
Licensing and technology inspection are the only impediments to play commencing, as the Gaming Policy Committee voted to recommend that the state legislature remove some now-pesky language from 2011’s online poker bill.
The bill was passed before the Department of Justice clarified the 1961 Wire Act in December of last year. The opinion made intrastate web gaming free and clear of violating federal law. Soon, the Nevada legislation won’t require waiting for the federal nod.
Nevada will have its autonomy for intrastate web card playing. However, due to concerns about a small potential player pool, businesses will want the state to make some deals.
State-to-state or state-to-nation compacts would infuse the soon-to-be Nevada sites with more players and greater revenue. The Committee said Tuesday that it will urge lawmakers and other state officials to “explore” the legal possibility of such partnerships.
While the course of action appears to be cut and dry, Nevada’s aggressive push forward into the new frontier of gaming technology hasn’t been without some controversy. Such criticism falls on regulators giving the OK to some companies with checkered pasts.
So far, as evident with the approval of U.K.-based William Hill — a company with an online component — to operate brick-and-mortar sports books, regulators have agreed that a perfect record can’t be expected. William Hill, for example, once illegally did business in Australia.
“We’ll be criticized no matter what we do,” Gaming Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard said of the tricky situation the state faces in the coming months and years.
Lipparelli defended Nevada’s position, saying that some large foreign online gaming companies looked at the state’s regulatory standards and decided they couldn’t make the cut.
Regulators argue that no one could be eligible to run online games if the rules are too tough. Bwin.party Digital Entertainment, which has applied to run games on behalf of MGM Resorts International, has a settlement with the Department of Justice on its company record.
After four meetings, the Gaming Policy Committee is now on a break, giving the Assembly and Senate, the Gaming Commission and the Gaming Control Board a handful of objectives to pursue and more clarity on some issues as Nevada inches closer to the first ever real-money site under the supervision and taxation of a state government.
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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