The website VegasInc.com reported yesterday that the Nevada State Gaming Control Board (GCB) will begin accepting online poker licensing applications in February. The announcement was made by GCB Chairman Mark Lipparelli at the U.S. Online Gaming Law conference last week at the Aria casino in Las Vegas.
Any licenses issued would permit operators to only offer internet games to residents of Nevada. Because the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) is still in place, interstate online poker is not allowed. Intrastate online poker, or online poker within state borders, is explicitly permitted. Of course, proponents of legalization and regulation on the federal level argue that the intrastate game would not be able to achieve the critical mass needed to make it viable in most states, but that is besides the point.
For operators who are already licensed for brick and mortar gambling in Nevada, the process should go fairly quickly, according to Lipparelli. It won’t be as simple as stamping “APPROVED” on an application – operators will still have to show that they have the technology to keep underage players and those from outside Nevada off their site – but it should be relatively smooth. New operators, however, will be subjected to extensive licensing investigations, which could take several months.
“We’ve taken our brick-and-mortar operational standards to a new level,” Lipparelli said. “We’re going to continue to be flexible, but we think we’ve set the bar high for licensing and suitability.”
Online gambling regulations are almost in place in Nevada. In September, the GCB held a public regulatory workshop to field questions and discuss possible revisions to Regulation 5A, the regulation that lays out the framework for online gambling in Nevada. Very few concerns were raised and everything seems on track for final approval in December.
Some of the highlights of the regulations include:
• Legal online gambling age will be 21.
• Licensees will be required to maintain a revolving fund of $20,000 to pay for compliance investigations.
• Players may only have one account at a given operator and may not use fake names.
• Credit cards are allowed as a means to deposit player funds.
• Inter-account transfers between players are not permitted.
• Hand histories must be kept by the operator for five years.
• Operators must take proactive steps to prevent bot use.
While the regulations would govern intrastate poker, they are also designed to have everything set to go so that Nevada can issue licenses for interstate internet poker if one of two things happen: a) the federal government formally legalizes online gambling, or b) the U.S. Department of Justice tells the Nevada Gaming Commission or the Gaming Control Board that interactive gaming is allowed by federal law. Nevada aims to be the state that prospective operators go to for online gambling licensing in the United States. It wants to be the capital for not just brick and mortar gaming, but online gaming, as well. Should online poker eventually become legalized and regulated nationwide, Nevada would see a revenue boost from licensing fees and new jobs would be created as poker operators set up shop in the state.