Nevada Governor Sandoval Reports Internet Poker Deals “Possible”

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With one site online with its 30-day trial and a host of others waiting in the wings, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval commented to Nevada media that he has already held preliminary talks with other states for compacts to expand the player pool.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Howard Stutz, Sandoval admitted Thursday that he has been in discussion with other state governors on opening up Nevada’s online poker system to include players from their states. “I’ve talked with a few governors and I’m introducing the concept of compacting,” Sandoval said to the Nevada media following a tour of BMM International, a gaming testing site for the state. “It’s very much in the early stages and we have a great opportunity because we have the infrastructure and other states have the players.”

While Governor Sandoval wouldn’t mention any states in particular as a target for compacting with Nevada, Stutz does state that there is a surprise in one of the states cited by gaming experts. Texas, with its roughly 25 million residents, is considered one of the frontrunners for a potential deal with the state of Nevada. As the second most populous state in the U. S., it would be a gem for any online gaming system to join forces with. The problem is, at this point, is that Texas hasn’t legalized online gaming and poker.

A bill in the Texas legislature would look to change that situation. The Poker Gaming Act of 2013 was introduced earlier this year and, since its debut, has undergone a few changes. Originally the bill was only for regulating “brick and mortar” poker rooms but, since its January introduction, it has opened up the possibility for “social” poker rooms and recently also introduced an online poker element into the bill.

There is a fervent anti-gaming coalition in the state of Texas and even the state’s governor, Rick Perry, has previously commented that he would not sign such legislation into law. In a bit of “political poker,” however, Stutz says the gaming experts see the connection between the two governors as a potential tipping point. During his run at the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2012, Sandoval was a key advocate for Perry’s nomination and it could be possible that it is “payback time” for that support.

What is also interesting is that the two other states that have already passed some form of online gaming, New Jersey and Delaware, are mentioned only in passing by Stutz and are not included as potential partners for Nevada in the burgeoning U. S. online gaming scene. New Jersey and Delaware both passed full online gaming regulations and are expected to come online with their offerings in the fall but both states’ populations (Delaware around 900,000, New Jersey around eight million) pale in comparison with such a monolith as Texas.

In addition to the three states that already have online gaming regulations of some sort on the books, others are looking into passing legislation. Along with Texas, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Iowa have some sort of legislation in the channels of their respective halls of legislature, but none have stepped forward and passed those laws as of yet.

Overall, Governor Sandoval has been pleased with the process of the online poker industry in the state of Nevada. Reacting to comments that the sites aren’t coming online as quickly as customers would like, Sandoval stated, “The (Nevada) Gaming Control Board needs to be extremely careful on how they do this. Over time, people will forget about that part and see how successful it will become.”

Currently in the state of Nevada, only Ultimate Poker is offering its wares to customers. After their debut at the end of April, there have already been over one million hands dealt to customers on the site. During the World Series of Poker conference call on Wednesday, WSOP officials stated that their online poker site, powered by 888 Holdings, would open for business during the schedule of the WSOP. If Nevada was able to negotiate a compact with a state such as Texas, the online poker industry in the Silver State would definitely expand as other players look to get into the game quickly.

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