Nevada Governor approves Inter-State online poker bill
As operators in the state are poised to go live with the first legalized and regulated online poker rooms in the United States, elected officials in Nevada are already looking towards the future and tightening their current restrictions on potential operators in the state. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed Assembly Bill 114 into law on Thursday, giving him the power to form inter-state online poker compacts with other states and adding a “bad actor” clause to the current online poker legislation in the state.
AB114 is a great bill for poker players in Nevada and elsewhere in the US, as it allows sparsely populated states (like Nevada) to join together and pool their players. There are already whispers of preliminary talks between Nevada and Delaware forming such a partnership, with politicians from both states mentioning a potential partnership between the two publicly. The possibility of Inter-State online poker could also push Congress to act, as the Federal Government could be left out in the cold if states continue to press on without them.
Inter-State online poker would seem to be the only way small states like Nevada, Montana, the Dakotas, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and even states with several million residents like Massachusetts or Michigan could sustain an online poker economy. Without inter-state online poker these states would likely be drawing from a very tiny player pool, as estimates and data from European countries with legalized online poker would put the total number of real-money players in a given year at around 1% maximum of the total population. Which means Nevada would be drawing from a player pool of about 27,000 players, with most of those players being one-and-done depositors with maybe a rolling average of about 2,000 real-money online poker players populating a half-dozen poker sites.
If you are an executive at PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker AB114 was probably met with great derision as the bill puts in place a “Bad Actor” clause; calling for a five-year ban on all online poker sites that operated in the United States after UIGEA legislation was put in place in late 2006. Because of the clause PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will be shutout from online poker in Nevada, while sites like Party Poker and 888 Poker are free to partner with Brick & Mortar casinos in the state and apply for an online poker license –the price of this license went up thanks to AB114.
The “Bad Actor” clause insures that newly formed online poker rooms in Nevada won’t have to compete with the online poker juggernaut that is PokerStars, and perhaps because of this, coupled with the potential to form Inter-State compacts, the Nevada State Assembly felt the value of an online poker license was far greater than it was on Wednesday. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the initial licensing can cost up to $1 million (with a minimum of $150,000) with renewals running an online poker operator a flat $250,000.
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