The issue last week of Nevada Gaming Commission licenses to Bally Technologies and International Game Technology has triggered a burst of renewed enthusiasm for online poker legalisation in the United States, with both business executives and politicians expressing support for the concept.
Associated Press quoted Bally CEO Richard Haddrill, who took the opportunity to reiterate that his company has already signed a supply deal with the Golden Nugget Casino which will see Bally provide the land operation with an Internet poker product.
He said that he expects this to be ready for the public by the end of this year or early 2013 after routine testing and inspections from state regulators, and that his company will be offering its iGaming platform technology and content to land casino operators.
The platform features open architecture, which enables operators to choose from content from a multitude of providers. The iGaming platform is also designed for mobile integration and is ready to accommodate, when authorised, online wagering beyond poker, such as casino table games, video slots, bingo, social, and sports wagering.
IGT executive Robert Melendres told AP that his firm is also on track to provide the new internet poker systems to customers, and that IGT was a supplier, with no intention of competing with its customers in an operational sense .
The news agency recalls that licence applicant 888 Holdings, operator of the 888poker website, already has a software relationship with Caesars Entertainment and is looking for offices in Nevada.
Nevada’s two U.S. senators, Democratic Party Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Dean Heller, also expressed enthusiasm for the latest developments.
“Senator Reid believes legalizing online poker remains important for Nevada, and he will continue to work on this issue,” one of the Senator’s spokespersons said last week.
Stewart Bybee, communications director for Sen. Heller, commented:
“Senator Heller continues to support legalizing Internet poker and has been working closely with both Senator Reid and Senator Kyl on legislation to achieve this goal.”
Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei declared himself on board, as well, although he said that he believes the onus is on individual states to come up with consistent, collective legislation in order for the movement to have a chance.
Earlier this year Amodei said that the industry as a whole should push for federal regulation in the U.S.
Nevada is widely regarded as the leader in the online poker legalisation drive, resulting in European companies moving to forge partnership links with reputable American companies.
One example quoted by AP is Bwin.Party digital entertainment, which has allied itself with MGM Resorts International and Boyd Gaming.
However, Nevada’s population is too small for the state to successfully go it alone in terms of player liquidity, and significant growth won’t come until other states start approving online gambling, according to David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
He says that Nevada will ideally need to pool its players with those in states which have also legalised. If California can persuade its conflicting factions to agree on a legalisation law, it could be a good partner, boasting a population of nearly 38 million – almost thirteen times that of Nevada.
Nevada will have an eye on New Jersey and Delaware, too as states that are making rapid progress in the legalisation stakes and could be competitors or partners.
AP notes that federal attempts at legalisation appear to be stalled at present, with bills by Rep John Campbell and Rep Joe Barton making little progress in moving forward in Congressional committees or attracting more political sponsors.
“The lack of urgency is even more surprising in light of a U.S. Justice Department ruling in December that the 1961 Wire Act forbids only sports betting, not other forms of Internet gambling such as poker,” Associated Press notes.
Analyses by Wells Fargo and other financial firms indicate passage of federal legislation could lead to a $20 billion annual market online in the U.S. within five years, the news agency reports.