12/22/2011 : Gaming Control Commission proposals await Commission's vote
The drafters at the Nevada Gaming Control Commission have made their consultation and drafting targets on time, presenting the Nevada Gaming Commission with a final version of proposed regulations for the legalization of intrastate poker in the gambling state.
The Commission’s approval will hopefully emerge from a session today (Thursday) that will see the commissioners voting on the proposals, creating an environment in which interested parties can apply for licensing.
Ahead of the vote, the Associated Press carried an extensive article on the advent of internet poker in the United States’ premier gambling venue, noting that the new rules were designed to put the state in a position to move quickly to become the center of a lucrative new revenue stream should Congress pass one of several proposed measures seeking to legalise online poker or internet gambling.
"In the meantime, Nevada's new regulations could allow the state's casino companies to operate gambling websites limited to players within Nevada's borders," Mark Lipparelli, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, told the news agency.
Lipparelli said websites limited to Nevada's borders could be up and running before the end of next year if the gaming commission votes positively on the regulations.
Nevada is hoping to become the first to practically regulate internet poker in the US, seizing the initiative from other states considering similar moves such as California, Iowa and Washington DC.
Already land and online gambling companies are manoeuvering for position in the new market, forming partnerships and lobbying vigorously. Among these is MGM Resorts International, which recently announced a partnership with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment plc, a major European online gambling company.
Other combinations include Caesars Entertainment and Gibraltar’s 888 Holdings. Station Casinos owners the Fertitta family recently acquired online poker software developer Cyberarts, and must also be regarded as a contender.
Not all land-based giants favour intrastate legalization, the AP piece points out; both Caesars Entertainment and MGM prefer a federally legalised solution, concerned that intrastate-focused individual state initiatives may not deliver sufficient player liquidity for a thriving business, and that some states may be tempted to pass "sub par" regulatory regimes.
"There's an imperative for the federal government to act," MGM spokesman Alan Feldman told the news agency.
U.S. Digital Gaming, a software and turnkey industry provider, estimates a network of online poker sites would need at least 70,000 active users to be viable and would likely be able to get to that size within 18 months, producing about $180 million in revenue. According to the independent monitor Pokerscout, pre-Black Friday Nevada could muster 25,000 internet players.
"Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli and others argue that under the new regulations, online poker is likely to be legal within Nevada borders as long as operators prove they limit the bets geographically. Bolstering that position, he said, is the fact that the state has already allowed several companies to offer web or mobile sites inside the state for sports betting without opposition from the federal government," the article observes.
Among local companies moving forward with internet poker strategies is land operator Michael Gaughan of the South Point land casino. He said that he wanted to ensure that he was not left behind in a new regulatory scenario that holds the promise of fresh revenue opportunities, and revealed that he has hired experts to give him an effective online presence.