Could Full Online Casino Gaming Come to Nevada? State Regulators to Discuss

Posted on: May 4, 2021, 01:32h. 

Last updated on: May 4, 2021, 01:50h.

Nevada is synonymous with casinos, but the state currently bans nearly all forms of gambling via the internet. That could soon change.

Nevada online casino Las Vegas sports betting
The Las Vegas Strip is seen barren during Nevada’s statewide shutdown on March 20, 2020. Online gaming would have allowed state casinos to generate at least some gaming revenue during the pandemic’s full closure of nonessential businesses. (Image: Reno Gazette Journal)

Many outsiders who only casually visit Las Vegas are often surprised to learn that Nevada is one of only five states that does not have a lottery, nor participate in interstate lottery games like Powerball and Mega Millions. And despite legal, regulated online gaming proliferating across the country — interactive slot machines and table games live in five states and more on the way — Nevada continues to ban most internet gambling.

The exception is online poker, which has operated in Nevada since 2013. The lone operating platform — WSOP.com — pools its online poker players with New Jersey and Delaware. 

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has proposed a series of amendments to Regulation 5A, which is the state’s laws dealing with interactive gaming. The NGCB has planned a May 13 hearing to consider authorizing additional online casino games, and allowing sports bettors to create mobile accounts without visiting a casino. 

Input Requested

The three-member NGCB is seeking public comment and input from the gaming industry regarding possibly expanding online casino gaming, and doing away with the initial in-person mobile sportsbook account registration.

Casinos have long opposed allowing sports bettors to fully register online, as in-person registration forces them to visit their physical gaming floors. 

Regulated online sports betting is operational in 15 states. Only two — Nevada and Illinois — require accounts to be set up in-person. During the 2020 pandemic, Illinois temporarily suspended the in-person necessity and allowed players to register remotely.

The NGCB will not vote on the Regulation 5A amendments during the May 13 hearing. If it does at a later date, and at least two of the board members back the online gaming expansion measures, the adjustments would head to the Nevada Gaming Commission for further consideration and final approval. 

Internet Gaming Importance

COVID-19 revealed how critically important iGaming can be during a pandemic. 

In Pennsylvania, the second-richest casino gaming market in the country, online casinos accounted for 21 percent of the state’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) last year. While sports betting gets the headlines, online slots and table games are much more profitable for iGaming operators and their land-based casinos. 

2020 iGaming in Pennsylvania totaled $556.7 million. Mobile and in-person sportsbooks kept $189.7 million of the bets wagered. In New Jersey, online casinos generated GGR of $970.3 million. Sportsbooks won $398.5 million.

The internet casino and sports betting revenue helped offset some of the brick-and-mortar losses at Pennsylvania and New Jersey casinos. 

Pennsylvania’s 2020 GGR was down 22 percent from 2019. In New Jersey, GGR was down nearly 17 percent. But in Nevada, GGR was down 43 percent.