Last week, State Assemblyman William Horne (D-Nev) introduced a bill (AB258) calling for the legalization of online poker. The new bill differs from intrastate gambling bills proposed in other states such as New Jersey and Florida by specifically focusing on regulating online poker and prohibiting sports betting.
There are powerful lobbying forces behind the new bill such as the Poker Players Alliance and Rational Entertainment Enterprises which owns PokerStars. Currently based in the Isle of Man in the British Isles, PokerStars is the worlds largest online poker site.
A provision of the new bill would exclude the Nevada Gaming commission from denying a license to major online poker operators such as Full Tilt and PokerStars who have operated offshore in the UK since the passage of the UIGEA in 2006 which effectively banned online gambling in the U.S. and forced many international online companies from competing in the American market.
As expected there is resistance to the proposed bill from smaller land based casinos who fear an end to their gambling revenue if legalized online poker is introduced in the state, not to mention opposition from Caesars Entertainment Corp., the world’s largest casino company which has been pushing to legalize online poker in the U.S at the federal level.
If the new bill is successful, Nevada will benefit not only from the millions of online poker players it will attract but also from the potential jobs and lucrative tax revenues that might otherwise have been awarded first to the state of New Jersey.