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Internet Poker Rules On Way to Nevada Gaming Commission

State to Adopt Regulations By February 2012

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On Wednesday morning the Nevada Gaming Control Board said that it will send Internet poker regulatory proposals to the Gaming Commission — as part of a process that will end with regulations being adopted by February 2012 and operator licensing on the horizon.

At a hearing in Carson City, state regulators discussed at length some of the recent changes and ongoing industry concerns to the crafted language.

Representatives from 888 Holdings, International Game Technology and Fertitta Entertainment gave testimony in regards to a number of items that the companies want clarified by February. Both 888 and IGT have already filed for a license to participate in a Nevada-based Internet poker system.

Gaming attorney and former Control Board member Mark Clayton spoke on behalf of 888 and introduced proposed language that would allow players to wager money before their full-scale age and identity verification is complete.

According to Clayton, online poker sites would run and finish the first stage of verification immediately, giving players access to tables for a window of 30 days before any required documents must be submitted.

Clayton said that tourists attending the World Series of Poker might want to register, deposit and begin online play quickly.

The proposal was questioned when regulators wanted to know what would happen to the funds of a player who failed to complete the verification process. Regulators still need to decide whether that money would be forfeited to the casino or held untouched for when the player returns to action.

Ellen WhittemoreIn addition to player registration, language on rake was discussed. The current regulations limit it to 10 percent for cash games — the same maximum brick-and-mortar poker tables take. Attorney Ellen Whittemore, representing IGT, wanted the language to also reflect poker tournament-specific rake.

Most of the hearing’s time on Internet poker centered on how to regulate operators having different skins — or separate poker rooms under a single ownership or partnership. Regulators wanted to figure out if there was any way a player could have two screen names engaged on a site at one time.

Anthony Cabot, attorney for Fertitta Entertainment, spoke at length about the clarity needed to prevent any loopholes for player collusion within a network.

Cabot, Whittemore, and Clayton never disagreed during the hearing, and all three urged regulators to address business concerns when tweaking the regulations.

Altogether, there isn’t much that needs adjustment before the final Control Board paperwork is delivered to the Gaming Commission. At the end of the hearing, Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli thanked his colleagues for their hard work on the regulations.

Some of Nevada’s casino companies are looking to establish the nation’s first intrastate online poker system, and down the road offer the game nationwide if federal legislation passes or the Justice Department gives the OK.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus