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Nevada, at the forefront of the legal battle, has just moved one step closer to becoming the first state to legalize online poker. Nevada bill AB 258 has passed the state assembly judiciary committee. While it has been altered to no longer allow international or interstate online poker, it will allow for the legalization of in-state online poker. This is a milestone in the movement to legalize online poker.

The bill’s effect will be limited until the federal government addresses the issue. In the meantime, it may turn Nevada into the friendliest place in America for online poker players. William Horne, the committee chair, views the bill as a trend setter, a path clearer which will put Nevada leaps ahead of the game when the federal government finally legalizes online poker. Horne said, “We want to be ready when the DOJ changes its opinion or the federal bill gets signed into law. When that happens, Nevada will already have all the pegs in place to be ready to go.”

Nevada senator Harry Reid has proposed an online poker bill in Congress. His bill includes a 15-month blackout period where online poker is illegal and inoperable in the States for 15 months, before its status changes. “With this bill, we will have everything in place the day they process a bill in D.C.,” Horne commented. “We’ll be ready to go with minimal delays. I hope there will not be a blackout period in a federal bill. I think a blackout period would be bad for casinos in Nevada. Sites like PokerStars have this market share that is not going anywhere. Put them in a penalty box and they aren’t going to stop online poker, they just won’t be doing it in the U.S. The only difference is we won’t be enjoying any of that market share in the U.S.”

With partnerships forming between brick-and-mortar casinos and online poker sites, the strong likelihood of AB 258 being signed into law, Nevada is looking more and more like it will become the first to legalize online poker. Though it may be only within the state, AB 258 stands to make Nevada yet again the undisputed destination for all things gambling.