Late last week, the Nevada Gaming Commission officially approved Regulation 5A in a unanimous 4-0 vote. This regulation sets the rules and framework for online poker within the state of Nevada, including licensing requirements. The Las Vegas Review-Journal estimates that “some sites could be up and running by the end of 2012.”
Nevada is the first state to officially allow for online poker within their state. As one of the few states where gambling is legal and in which there is a large enough of a player pool to make online poker feasible, Nevada has already had a number of companies apply for online poker licenses. Among them are Caesars Entertainment Corp and Boyd Gaming. Both of these companies have recently aligned themselves with larger international online poker sites. Boyd Gaming entered into an agreement with bwin.Party, while Caesars Entertainment has teamed up with 888 Holdings. Other companies are also setting themselves up to be able to quickly open their doors to all American player if and when federal legislation passes that would allow for regulated online poker.
Nevada’s Regulation 5A will hold online poker licensees just as accountable as their brick and mortar casino counterparts. Operators will also need to abide by other unique requirements. They will need to be proactive in preventing bot use, keep hand histories on file for a minimum of 5 years, ensure that only Nevada residents are able to play on their site, and not allow player to player money transfers.
As with brick and mortar gambling venues, the legal gambling age will be 21. Operators will also need to be able to detect fraudulent activities such as money laundering, as well as provide problem gambling resources and offer self-exclusion for players. The majority of internet poker license applications have come from already established brick and mortar casinos. It is expected that most, if not all, will be granted Nevada online poker licenses.
For those operators who do not already have internet poker software or an online market presence, it is questionable if they will be able to attract enough players to be successful. Unlike casino table games, poker requires a strong player base in order to start and keep games running. With Nevada’s limited population and the strong competition among casinos, it is likely that once the dust settles we will see only a handful of successful Nevada online poker sites.