Posted 3/11/11 : NEVADA IN NEW ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION BID
Powerful support… and some reservations in Las Vegas
Nevada has joined California, Florida, Iowa and New Jersey in attempts to legislate for the intrastate legalization of online poker, with Assemblyman William Horne – a Democrat who heads up the Assembly Judiciary Committee – introducing Bill AB258 Thursday. Horne has set a committee hearing for the new proposal of March 24.
Fellow Nevada politician Harry Reid's attempt at legalization in the closing weeks of the last Congress failed despite the support of the American Gaming Association.
Early reports on the new initiative in Nevada indicate that it is being backed by the considerable influence and resources of internet poker giant Pokerstars, which has hired a top lobbyist to represent its interests in the Nevada Legislature.
Interestingly, it appears that the draft at present allows for reciprocal permission for players from other states to play…providing those other states have themselves legalised the pastime and agree.
"Nevada has always been the leader in gaming," Horne said of his bill. "As such, we should remain the leader when it comes to Internet poker."
AB258 calls on Nevada gambling regulators to create rules for Internet poker operators and companies that make related equipment, reports Associated Press. It specifically prohibits the Nevada Gaming Commission from denying a licence to existing poker sites such as PokerStars.
A spokesman for Senator Reid said this week: "The writing has been on the wall that if the federal government doesn't act to regulate Internet poker, then states will try to do so.”
The spokesman expressed support for overarching standards but said that Sen. Reid wants to put the legalization task to the Nevada regulating agency.
"A federalised market – regulated by proven regulators like the Nevada Gaming Control Board and coupled with tough new measures to stop illegal Internet gambling – is the right way to go," he said.
The Reid staffer's perspective appears to be shared by New Jersey's legalization nemesis, Caesars Entertainment, which was quick to voice its opposition to the Nevada proposal.
Jan Jones, Caesars' senior vice president for communications and public relations told AP: "Our focus is not intrastate, our focus is interstate. It's federal, it's putting together an American, an appropriate regulation and licensing regime, and taking the jobs and revenues going to foreign companies and bringing it back to America."
Jones emphasised the Caesars view that the new Nevada bill isn't the right way to legalise online poker because it's state-only legalization.
"That's been our position in every state, and it's our position in Nevada as well," Jones said. "Internet, by its nature, is an interstate activity, and the rules should be crafted appropriately."
Officials for the American Gaming Association have so far declined to comment on the new Nevada bill.
Legal Internet poker could benefit Nevada's ailing economy, claim the bill's authors, noting that technology could be used to limit the gambling to places where it is legal. The proposed regulations would have to guard against underage gambling and cheating and set standards that protect players' privacy, the draft, which is confined to internet poker, insists.
In related news, taxpayers in British Columbia had better hope that NDP wannabe leader John Horgan is not elected provincial premier in an upcoming April political party election – he is likely to reverse the province's progressive attitude toward online gambling and the considerable investment made in introducing it to the province.
Local media report that Horgan says he would unplug online gaming if elected as B.C. premier. The politician, one of five candidates for the party leadership, said the B.C. Lottery Corporation’s online gaming is particularly vulnerable to money laundering, fraud, and related crimes.
Horgan, if elected party leader, would still need to defeat Christy Clark for the provincial premiership.