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California Gaming Regulator: Nevada Online Poker Industry 'Heavily Dependent on Prayer'

Unimpressed by Potential Size of the Silver State Player Pool


Richard SchuetzOne of California’s top gaming regulators said Friday that the success of Nevada’s upcoming intrastate online poker industry is “heavily dependent on prayer.”

Nevada has just 2.5 million residents and about 4 million visitors per month. The regulations would let tourists play.

California Gambling Control Commissioner Richard Schuetz was skeptical of the Silver State’s model during his introductory remarks at Friday’s Internet Gaming Symposium at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The day-long conference covered a wide range of regulatory topics.

Nevada regulators are moving toward overseeing the nation’s first intrastate web poker industry. The activity isn’t explicitly legal anywhere else in the country. Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli said last week that it will take seven to 10 months before a site is operational.

California lawmakers are still dug in trying to pass a bill — meeting fierce resistance from some tribal groups.

With 37.7 million people, Schuetz said, “If you understand liquidity, that is huge. We are the sleeping giant.”

“Whether or not we can work that into a viable law remains to be seen,” Schuetz admitted.

Mike Dreitzer, of testing lab BMM, talks Friday about technical issues in iGamingAs part of a panel on licensing procedures, gaming attorney Mike Alonso said that some foreign Internet gaming companies are “weighing their options” on coming to Nevada. Alonso said that they might be wondering if California is a “better bet.”

However, 888 Holdings plc and Digital Entertainment — both based overseas — are seeking approval during the first wave of Nevada licenses. has also attached itself to a California tribe, just in case.

A source close to the California bill told Card Player in April that the state doesn’t plan on partnering with Nevada. A Department of Justice opinion in December 2011 opened the door for states to consider online gaming, but hasn’t resolved the legality of state-to-state compacts.

According to Schuetz, California has historically represented 39 percent of the U.S. Internet poker market — which was previously controlled by offshore sites. In April 2011, in an event known widely as Black Friday, the federal government booted PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker from American cyberspace.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus