Nevada Gaming Policy Committee Clears Up Online Poker Bill

The 11 members of the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee are headed by that state’s Governor, Brian Sandoval. On Wednesday, July 25 they will meet for a special session in Las Vegas, Nevada to discuss proposed recommendations for future legislative sessions concerning their online poker policy. Nevada was the first state to pass legalized online poker play within its state boundaries for its residents and visitors after the United States Department of Justice passed that responsibility on to the state level in late 2011. The committee has frequently stated that their intent is to keep Nevada at the front of the online poker industry in the US, positioning that state as a leader both financially and technically.

What exactly is being addressed? Some language in Assembly Bill 258 seems to allude to a provision that Nevada must wait for DOJ federal approval for intrastate activity concerning online poker, even after the state passes its own policies. Obviously after the DOJ on December 23 of 2011 sent the fate of online poker to each individual state, that wording can now be legally removed to prevent any confusion in the future. That particular bill was the legislation which proposed the adoption of specific online poker regulations in Nevada. cleaning up and clarifying the wording is important since Nevada has seen more than 30 applicants for interactive gaming licensing in that state, and also since virtual poker play will probably be a reality in the Silver State by late 2012 or early 2013.

Half sarcastically notifying Nevada’s Governor that there could be a problem in the future if the online poker bill isn’t cleaned up soon, commission Chairman Peter Bernhard said in June, “In all due respect, Governor, I don’t think you’re going to get a [DoJ] letter saying you can do whatever you want.” Also on the slate for the Wednesday discussions are post-licensing strengthening of regulatory standards and requirements for the web poker companies who are licensed to operate virtually in that state. Wednesday’s meeting will be number four for the committee, which shows how important getting their online poker legislation correct actually is. Previous to their March meeting this year, the panel had not convened in almost 30 years.

Since Nevada initially acted on the DOJ change of heart, Delaware has also adopted online gaming legislation, legalizing online poker play in DE and casino table games in the virtual world. Nevada is wisely checking and double checking their legal wording and legislative text to ensure that they stay at the forefront of the United States online poker picture. Other states are aggressively pushing for legalized online poker play, and Nevada does not want to lose their early and commanding lead in what is sure to be a multibillion dollar industry for both poker players and those poker companies who gamble on the future of online poker in the United States.

Committee members said they would probably only have one more meeting before they send any revisions or proposals to state lawmakers for 2013 action. The Nevada Gaming Policy Committee is only a committee, and their recommendations are certainly not binding. But with the presence of pro-poker Gov. Sandoval and other notable pro-gambling proponents on the 11 member board, the proposals and recommendations made thus far this year have been largely accepted by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. What this means for the online poker player in Nevada is 2012 virtual poker play is getting closer, faster.