The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) will consider the issuance of Internet poker licenses for two industry leaders. The licensure of Bally Technologies, Inc. and International Game Technology will be reviewed during their June 6 and 7 meetings. Any approval would then move their application along to the Gaming Commission, followed by an extensive technical evaluation, according to NGCB Chairman Mark Lipparelli. If approved, these would be the first legal licenses for an online poker provider in U.S. History.
This news is another positive step in what has been an eventful year for Internet gaming regulation. The NGCB began accepting applications for Internet poker in October 2011. Since then, 25 interested parties have applied for licensure, with these being the first to advance to a regulatory review. Chairman Lipparelli anticipates the approval of the first licenses within 2 months, and perhaps the availability of online poker in Nevada within 7 months.
Nevada is leading the way for regulation of online casinos. This has motivated many companies to seek out partnerships with prominent brick and mortar casinos in Las Vegas to enhance their position as this new market emerges in the United States. Bwin.Party, which has also submitted an application to the NGCB, recently partnered with MGM Resorts to gain a competitive advantage in the months to come. This is in anticipation of potential moves by social media giants Zynga and Facebook, in addition to Native American tribes, as they all vie for a piece of what could be a multi-billion dollar industry.
The actions of the U.S. government continue to have a significant impact on the legal status of online gaming. The December clarification of the Wire Acts (1961) limitations to sports betting has opened the floodgates, with multiple states making strong moves towards regulating online gaming. The Obama administration recently responded to the Poker Players Alliance’s petition on Internet gaming, stressing that it would be left to the states to decide on legislation and regulation. They also highlighted the need for reliable security measures. This, coupled with the absence of bipartisanship in the U.S. Congress, has lead states like Nevada, New Jersey, California and the District of Columbia to consider quick action to bring online gambling and tax revenues to their states.
With little standing in the way for states still dealing with the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, Internet gambling is an attractive means of increasing revenues. Recent federal and state actions suggest that 2012 will continue to be a busy year for online gaming.