Nevada Internet Poker Rides Rush

iPoker bill heard; 888-Caesars deal approved; Wynn partners with PokerStars

by , Mar 24, 2011 | 7:39 pm

Just before the hearing on AB258 held in the Nevada Legislature this morning, the PPA released an official press statement supporting the “interstate” iPoker bill.  This announcement made an for an interesting preface to over three hours of testimony on internet poker in Nevada, featuring a bevy of high-octane witnesses presenting an array of statistics and factoids *in favor* the bill, without a whole lot of testimony (publicly) against.

It kicked off a major rush of online poker activity in the state of Nevada today.

At the hearing, witnesses giving testimony in support of the bill included Vanessa Rousso, who made the obligatory “poker star” (pun-intended) appearance.  She gave a rather harried and then hurried Online Poker 101 primer to Nevada Legislature, who by all appearances needed it – one state rep asking during the hearing for clarification on the difference between “video poker” at a casino and “online poker”.  There were some questionable large quotations of gargantuan customer bases and revenue projections by Applied Analysis, revelations of the wealth iPoker has provided the Isle of Man, and an infomercial reassurances from the Aristotle group (whose client is PokerStars) that their INTEGRITY age verification software could protect Nevada children from gaining access to iPoker.

Or – in short – a whole ton of high-end testimony that the backers of this bill would surely like to have presented. No vote was held in the Assembly Judiciary.  The next step per @RindelAP is that AB258 will proceed to the committee’s “work session” for amendments; date to be announced.

What I was truly intrigued by was the testimony of the “objector”, Pete Ernaut, representing the Nevada Resort Association, who seems to be the public voice for at least some of the Nevada casinos.  Ernaut did not testify against iPoker, but opined that Nevada should not pass their own bill, but rather wait for federal legislation.  He agreed, when questioned, that the federal process may be indeed too slow for Nevada to have competitive advantage.

His solution? A “re-ordering” of things where Nevada doesn’t need new legislation to begin building their advantage, and can begin planning for business without federal legislation like #campbill already in place.  He referred to some previous internet gambling  legislation in November 2001 named AB466 (see full bill text).

Speaking of Nevada casinos establishing business in the online poker market – just on the heels of the AB258 iPoker hearing, the Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously this afternoon after a two-hour discussion to put the final stamp of approval on the 888-Caesars suitability to continue their relationship per this story by @HowardStutz for the Las Vegas Review Journal.  The 888-Caesars final hearing and vote was scheduled so soon after the AB258 hearing that local journalists in Vegas had to rush from one hearing to the next.

Later in the evening, the Vegas-based Wynn Resorts announced a online partnership with none other than – PokerStars.  A separate article again by @HowardStutz for the Las Vegas Review Journal states that “Wynn Resorts Ltd. announced a partnership with PokerStars to operate an a U.S.-based online poker website should federal legislation allowing Internet gambling be passed.”

Whether or not entities in Nevada can or will take action citing prior legislation without a bill like a state-level AB258 or a federal bill like#campbill is unclear.  Today the process for such a new state-level bill was edged along, NGC blessed a deal between 888-Caesars on their own, and a major Las Vegas casino company announced an alliance with PokerStars asking for federal blessing.

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