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Five players in they gambling industry have applied for online poker licenses in the state of Nevada. 888 Holdings, International Gaming Technology, South Point Poker, Bally Technologies, and Cantor Gaming are now vying to become the first companies to offer legal internet poker within American borders.

According to CardPlayer.com, the process of reviewing the paperwork has already begun. Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli labeled February as the soonest possible time that a real money online poker site could be launched, but that “laboratory testing and approval of software and other technologies will likely take longer than issuing licenses.”

All but one of these companies are, in fact, operated out of the city of Las Vegas. South Point, IGT, Bally Technologies, and Cantor Gaming all make their home in the gambling capital of the country, giving them a front row seat for the drama surrounding the scurry for online acclimation.

888 Holdings, the lone foreign organization, is based in Gibraltar. Though this would seem to hinder their chances of entering what is shaping up to be a fairly nationalist-based gaming scene, 888 has spent nearly a year as a close associate of Caesars Entertainment. Just a month before Black Friday, in fact, regulators within the state of Nevada so approved of the relationship between these two groups that 888 was allowed to operate a World Series of Poker site in the UK.

For all intents and purposes, this appears to be a wide open field. Should intra or interstate poker become legal, it is theoretically possible that all of these companies could receive gaming licenses. In fact, that very occurrence could be a great deal for players. Competition, such as that between Full Tilt and PokerStars in recent years, has generated some incredible advancements both in the game itself and in the luxuries offered to the players.