Gaming regulators to study changes in Web rules, but new games not a consideration

The Nevada Gaming Commission will discuss several changes to the state’s Internet gaming regulations at its regular meeting monthly meeting Thursday in Las Vegas.

Adding other casino games, such as blackjack and slot machines to Nevada’s current poker-only status, however, is not under consideration.

Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said there are no plans for the state to move beyond Internet poker.

“We’re only six months into poker,” Burnett said. “For now, we want to prove out poker first.”

Only two pay-to-play real money websites are currently operating in Nevada; UltimatePoker.com, which is majority owned by Station Casinos, and WSOP.com, which is based on the World Series of Poker and owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Nevada will not break out the revenues collected from Internet poker until their are three or more websites operating.

The launch of additional websites is pending approval of the technology used to operate the activity by both independent testing laboratories and the control board’s lab.

Burnett said there might be some confusion on the matter because New Jersey plans to launch its real money Internet gaming by the end of November. The activity, which is tied to Atlantic City casinos, will include casino games and slot machines in addition to poker.

“Nevada is poker only,” Burnett said. “That was the legislative intent from the beginning and the board has no plans to do anything otherwise.”

The regulation changes pending before the commission will add some technical requirements for poker and also conform the language to be compliant with statutory changes made during the 2013 Legislature through Assembly Bill 114.

The commission is also expected to request that the governor enter into compacts with other states that would allow people outside of Nevada to wager on the currently operating poker websites in order to increase the player pool.

Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, who sponsored the legislation, said the interactive gaming law only excludes race and sports wagering. Other casino games are allowed, but it is up to Nevada gaming regulators to decide if they want to expand the activity.

“I believe our intent from the outcome was to take conservative steps,” Horne said Wednesday. “Nothing prohibits (the control board) from going beyond poker and we want our regulatory boards to make that decision. I think we’re taking prudent steps.”

Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are the only states that have legalized Internet gaming. Nevada is currently the only state operating real money online poker. In an interview with Card Player Magazine Tuesday, Delaware’s lottery director said online poker would launch in the state on Halloween.

Lawmakers in about a half dozen states, including California and Pennsylvania, are exploring adopting regulations to legalize Internet gaming in their states.

Meanwhile, a New Jersey lawmaker, speaking at an Internet gaming conference in Philadelphia this week, said he proposed legislation that would allow Internet gaming to spread across state lines. Like Nevada, the state’s laws require gamblers to be located within New Jersey’s borders.

Republican State Assemblyman John Amodeo thought the bill could be looked at next month. It would allow the hardware and software involved in Internet gambling to be located outside of Atlantic City casinos, provided the equipment is still within the state’s borders.

He told the conference online gaming could eventually become open to more consumers and a nationwide system for online betting.

He told the Press of Atlantic City that “ultimately, we could see Las Vegas handle everything west of the Mississippi, and Atlantic City could handle everything east of the Mississippi.”

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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