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Nevada Bill to Limit Interstate Gaming to Poker

A new bill was introduced into the Nevada state legislature on Thursday, aiming to clarify some of the rules surrounding interstate gaming compacts. Assembly Bill No. 414 (AB 414) was referred to the Committee on Judiciary on March 19th, 2015 and, if passed, would restrict any interstate agreements to online poker only.

The bill is just four pages long, but is best summarized with the Legislative Counsel’s Digest:

Existing law authorizes the Governor, upon recommendation of the Nevada Gaming Commission, to enter into agreements with certain governments to enable patrons in the signatory states to participate in interactive gaming. (NRS 463.747) This bill: (1) provides that such agreements may only be entered into to enable patrons in the signatory states to participate in Internet poker; and (2) defines Internet poker for such purposes.

There are currently three states in the U.S. with legalized, regulated online gambling: Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. Nevada was the first to go live back in April 2013, but despite being the world’s live gambling hub, it has struggled to rake in the internet bucks, mainly because its poker sites can only draw from within state borders. Nevada is not a very populous state, ranking just 35th of the 50 states, so liquidity is a problem. It only has two poker sites currently operating – WSOP.com and RealGaming.com – but WSOP.com the only one of note, as RealGaming barely registers on the radar. Ultimate Poker, the first regulated online poker site to launch in the United States, closed a few months back.

In February 2014, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval took a step to try to help the liquidity problem by signing the “Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement,” with Delaware Governor Jack Markell. The Agreement would allow for players in either state to play on the gambling sites of the other. The idea here is to hopefully grow the sites’ customer bases, as they can now draw from the populations of two states instead of just one.

The only internet gambling legalized in Nevada, though, is online poker, unlike in Delaware, where a wider variety of internet gambling is permitted, like casino games (roulette, slots, craps, blackjack, etc.). Thus, the need for AB 414 and its restriction to only sharing online poker rooms between the states.

Even though the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement was signed thirteen months ago, Nevada and Delaware still have separate player pools. About a month ago, however, Governor Sandoval said that the merger is imminent and should take place within a month or two (from late February). Apparently, “technical glitches” have held things up.

The convergence of player pools could also speed up the formation of interstate poker networks. 888 Holdings created the All American Poker Network (AAPN) last July, but to date has only had one site, 888poker, on it and that is in New Jersey. 888 has said, though, that it plans to launch AAPN in Nevada with three poker rooms: a new 888-operated site, a new offering from the Treasure Island casino, and the existing WSOP.com, which already runs 888’s software. AAPN’s plan is to then incorporate the three Delaware sites, all of which also use 888’s software, into the network. There are no plans as of yet to include New Jersey in anything, though the states’ governors have talked.

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