With Governor Brian Sandoval signing Assembly Bill 114 yesterday (2/21/13), Nevada became the second state to authorize some form of online (or “interactive”) gaming. As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the governor’s signature follows unanimous votes of support by both the state Senate and Assembly, in what the Review-Journal called “one of the speediest actions on a bill” in recent memory. The speed with which Nevada legalized full scale online gaming is no mistake. Nevada’s cross-country rival, New Jersey, is expected to legalize online gaming next week. Last year, Delaware authorized certain forms of online gaming including Keno, blackjack and poker.
Nevada enacted similar legislation in 2011, which would have legalized Internet gaming had Congress ever passed accompanying federal legislation. Yesterday’s legislation, however, allows for the operation and regulation of intrastate online gaming, while also authorizing Nevada to form interstate compacts to allow for online gaming in other states. The difference between then and now? A 2011 legal opinion issued by the Department of Justice clarifying the Wire Act of 1961, holding that the Act only applies to sports betting (as opposed to other forms such as state lotteries or poker).
As detailed by The New York Times, online gaming could be the next “billion-dollar business,” with technological developers across the world gearing up for virtual gambling in the U.S. In addition to Nevada and New Jersey, other states such as Mississippi, Iowa and California all have bills pending looking to online gaming as a means to increase tax revenue. At last week’s Gaming Law Minefield National Institute in Las Vegas, one panelist opined Connecticut may be the next state in the Northeast to authorize online gaming, with Pennsylvania and New York “not likely.”
As New Jersey finalizes its legislation, and Nevada begins to issue regulations, all eyes turn to the federal government to see how it reacts to these recent advancements.