Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is using the low-grade rivalry between Las Vegas and Atlantic City to encourage lawmakers to pass a bill that could expand the state’s online gambling market nationwide.
The day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie suggested that he’d be open to legalizing some form of Internet gambling, the Nevada Republican released a statement asking lawmakers to act quickly to ensure the state maintains its place as the nation’s leader in gambling regulation.
On Friday, Sandoval asked lawmakers to approve a bill that would a let companies offering online poker in Nevada accept wagers from players in other states. He said he wants Assembly Bill 5 to arrive on his desk within 30 days and announced that Democratic Assemblyman William Horne would manage the proposed legislation.
“I am pleased that the Assemblyman has offered to carry legislation allowing for the establishment of online gaming in our state and help Nevada maintain its position as the gold standard in gaming,” he said. “In light of the developments in New Jersey yesterday, the need to act quickly has become even more important.”
The Legislature began its four-month session Monday.
Nevada’s existing online gambling regulations, which went into effect in 2011, stipulate that companies cannot accept wagers across state lines until Congress or the U.S. Department of Justice takes regulatory action.
Assembly Bill 5 would get rid of that requirement and allow Sandoval to enter interstate online gambling agreements with other governors.
Several other states began looking into online gambling after the Department of Justice issued a letter in 2011 stating that the federal Wire Act of 1961, often used to crack down on Internet gambling, only applies to sports betting.
Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said he does did not expect any conflict with federal law if the state begins entering compacts with other states. Nevada now permits online poker but no other type of Internet gambling, so the agreements would apply only to poker.
Christie on Thursday vetoed an online gambling bill that would have made New Jersey the third state to legalize online wagering, after Nevada and Delaware. But he gave Internet gambling advocates a reason for optimism when he would sign the bill if it had a 10-year trial period and a higher tax rate on casinos.
Burnett, who helped draft Nevada’s bill, said Friday that he was not troubled by the developments in New Jersey.
“We’re following it, but I don’t think that will hinder what we’re doing here in Nevada at all,” he said.