Just Six Months In, Nevada Gaming Commission Considers Online Changes

Posted on: October 27, 2013, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: October 26, 2013, 01:46h.

After six months of online poker in Nevada, the Gaming Control Board is reviewing and revising. A little bit.

It’s only been half a year since online poker became legal in Nevada, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) is moving slowly when it comes to expansion of any kind beyond the popular card game. That being said, the Board is looking at some possible regulatory changes nonetheless.

“We’re only six months into poker,” said NGCB Chairman A.G. Burnett. “For now, we want to prove out poker first.”

Slow But Steady Wins the Race

And even with poker, the Board is not rushing anything. With only two legal sites up so far – Station Casinos-owned UltimatePoker.com and Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s WSOP.com brand – the Board is not planning to approve any more sites until the existing sites’ technology has been reviewed and assessed by independent testing laboratories, as well as the Control Board’s own in-house lab. (Obama, take note: this is how you do it.)

“Nevada is poker only,” reiterated Burnett. “That was the legislative intent from the beginning and the board has no plans to do anything otherwise.”

What the Board is looking at in terms of regulatory tuneups revolve around additional technical requirements for online poker, and also some language adjustments to match up with statutory changes that went into effect via Assembly Bill 114 during the latest legislative session.

Almost Anything Goes, In Theory

All that is technically prohibited in the bill is race and sports book wagering online; but Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, (D-Las Vegas), who sponsored the legislation, says he concurs with Nevada’s regulators about moving slowly and cautiously beyond poker, if at all.

“I believe our intent from the outcome was to take conservative steps,” Horne said of SB 114. “Nothing prohibits [the control board] from going beyond poker and we want our regulatory boards to make that decision. I think we’re taking prudent steps.”

Another important topic the Board is reviewing is the issue of interstate compacts for online poker, something that is probably going to be critical for Internet gaming to thrive in the Silver State over the long haul. With a population of just about 2,759,000 (compared to soon-to-be-competitor New Jersey’s 9 million), Nevada needs other states to be able to enter their online games legally in order to stay afloat in what will be an increasingly competitive market in the coming years. It’s expected that the Board will be asking Governor Brian Sandoval to push forward with this request, and there is no reason to expect he won’t comply.

In another few days, Delaware will join Nevada with online gaming, unfurling poker plus a few casino games for starters when they launch on Halloween. Then on November 26th, New Jersey will bring their Internet casinos into the online universe with a full selection of classic casino games, including poker, of course.

Ultimately, it could make more sense for more centralized regional servers to handle entire sections of the U.S., if state and federal legislation complies. At a recent regulatory meeting in Philadelphia, New Jersey State Assemblyman John Amodeo (R) discussed a possible new bill that would allow online gaming hardware and software to be situated outside of actual Atlantic City land casinos (as they are now required to be), opening the floodgates to a more nationwide online gaming scenario.

Speaking to the Press of Atlantic City, Amodeo suggested that “ultimately, we could see Las Vegas handle everything west of the Mississippi, and Atlantic City could handle everything east of the Mississippi.”