Nevada, long an innovator when it comes to gambling, may soon take another big step in that direction by becoming the first state to legalize online poker.
A bill just introduced in that state’s legislature would require the state’s Gaming Commission to license operators of Internet poker as long as they meet basic standards regarding financial controls, anti-cheating provisions, and the like.
This may be just the turning point that we and other advocates of online gaming have been looking for. First, the bill specifically says that existing i-gaming companies can’t be denied a poker license in Nevada just because they operate unlicensed operations now. That provision would likely keep the current market leaders at the top of the Nevada market, if the bill passes.
Second, the bill would allow the Nevada gaming commission to enter into agreements with other jurisdictions that permit online poker. These “compacts” would permit games and poker pots to be shared among these jurisdictions. That would bring in a lot of new players who don’t live in Nevada.
Other states like New Jersey and Iowa, as well as the District of Columbia, have been looking closely at Internet poker as well. But if Nevada, with the gambling infrastructure that it already has in place, become the first in this arena, the floodgates could open for legal online poker in many other states.
The passage of this bill would help some of the stragglers in Nevada’s casino industry and would permit millions of Americans to play poker (which, incidentally, the bill defines as a game “in which success over the long term is determined by the skill of the player”) on a legal and corruption-free basis.
In addition, legislation in Nevada, which is regarded as a thought leader in the gambling arena, may be able to give some momentum to federal legislation of the type that was proposed late last year by that state’s senior senator, Harry Reid.
It’s about time for action on online poker. Let’s hope the bill moves forward quickly.