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PokerStars Could Speed Up Nevada Web Poker

Company Could Have 'Very Positive Conversation' With State Officials


PokerStars’ settlement with the Department of Justice “sets the stage for a very positive conversation” with Nevada, said a former U.S. Representative from the Silver State.

Rep. Jon Porter, who left Congress in 2009, also echoed the sentiment of Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli, who told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday that each potential applicant would be looked at on a case-by-case basis. Porter, now a lobbyist, has been working with the Poker Players Alliance to persuade members of Congress that a federal bill is needed.

PokerStars has a “credibility issue to overcome,” state lawmaker William Horne conceded, but there aren’t any rules that would preclude them from re-entering U.S. cyberspace via Nevada.

Nevada officials frequently refer to the state as the “gold standard” of regulation. “I know we have the toughest regulators in the world,” Porter said.

At a recent gaming meeting, Lipparelli said that he knows that some foreign Internet gaming companies looked at Nevada’s regulations and realized they wouldn’t get a license.

Despite legalization attempts across the country, and a successful web poker bill in Delaware, Nevada remains the only place on the cusp of real-money play. Three software companies have been licensed already. Once their respective technologies are done with lab testing, and at least one brick-and-mortar casino company snags an operator license, the games should be underway. This could happen before the end of 2012.

While the PokerStars settlement is great news for players around the world who are desperately seeking Full Tilt refunds, it could also help the speed at which the industry takes shape in Nevada, according to Porter.

Former NV Rep. Jon PorterPorter said that PokerStars potentially becoming a player again in the U.S. means that other business-to-business providers might feel pressure to “accelerate” their plans for poker sites. Porter added that others, who are on the fence, might decide not to move forward with PokerStars in the mix.

If PokerStars were to come to Nevada, it couldn’t run a stand-alone site. The Isle of Man-based juggernaut would be required to partner with a well-established casino company.

PokerStars hasn’t applied, at least not yet. If the company submits paperwork to the Gaming Control Board, it would be thrown into the pile with dozens of companies already waiting for a license. It would likely take significant time for PokerStars to work its way through the process.

Now with the Full Tilt customer database and perhaps thousands willing to keep playing on the re-launched site instead of withdrawing their funds, PokerStars has an even bigger market share. Even before the deal, it owned a majority of the world-wide online poker pie.

According to Porter, the Nevada Gaming Commission could look at monopoly issues.

Although Nevada, at first, would only allow online poker for people within the state’s borders, the industry is anxiously hoping that officials figure out a legal way to partner with other states, or even other nations, in order to create larger player pools.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus