The Senate Judiciary Committee Passes The Nevada Online Poker Bill
Thursday, 26. May 2011

While it would appear that the federal government is doing everything in its power through the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prevent US players from participating in online poker, the state of Nevada seems to be trying to do the exact opposite. This past Tuesday, Assembly Bill 258 was passed by the Nevada Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill allows the Nevada Gaming Commission to begin to establish a framework by which to regulate online poker and grant licenses to those that wish to provide the service.

With the events of Black Friday and the more recent indictments and domain seizures, this move by the Nevada Senate Judiciary Committee has brought hope to US online poker enthusiasts. The Assembly Bill 258 does not actually outline the rules and regulations for online poker; rather, it means that the Nevada Gaming Commission can begin to establish all of the regulations and begin issuing licenses once either a federal law is passed legalizing online poker or the DOJ indicates to the Nevada Gaming Commission that online gaming is legal under federal law. If the latter should occur, the most likely result would be that online poker would be legal for residents of Nevada participating in online poker sites that have been issued Nevada license.

This bill was revised from an original version dated March 10th. In the original version, a very basic framework of regulations was established. The regulations included security standards, accounting standards, safeguards against problem and underage gaming and some technical internet poker standards. All of these regulations were removed and the revised version of the bill simply called for the provision of “licensed and regulated internet gaming” and that the State of Nevada should begin to develop “the necessary structure for licensure, regulation and enforcement.”

The bill did outline a number of requirements that a business must meet in order to be issued a license to provide players with online poker services. It would appear from the bill that license will only be issued to large, well-established casinos. However, there was a clause in the bill that seemingly left some hope for offshore companies to offer services if they are deemed eligible. Any business offering online gaming services, under this bill, will face a punishment of up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

The Senate is poised to vote on this bill towards the end of this week. After that, it will most likely return to the Assembly where any additional amendments will up for approval. Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada has already indicated his support for the legislation so it is just up to the DOJ or Congress to give the “OK.”

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