After years of talking about internet gambling, the US states of Nevada and New Jersey have both taken some definitive action within days of each other at the start of 2013, signing legislation that will permit internet gambling.
In New Jersey Governor Christie signed his state’s i-gaming bill into law after the Assembly and Senate approved it by 68-5 and 34-1 votes respectively. In Nevada Governor Sandoval hurriedly signed a similar bill as the two casino states vie to become the focal point for internet gambling in the US.
New Jersey permits existing licensed casinos to offer all games currently offered in New Jersey casinos, including poker. The new Nevada legislation permits only poker at the present time.
In Nevada the internet gambling licence fee is currently set at US$ 500,000 with a US$ 250,000 renewal fee but the amended AB114 bill sets a minimum of US$ 150,000 and a maximum of US$ 1 million for the licence fee.
“This is an historic day for the Great State of Nevada. Today I signed into law the framework that will usher in the next frontier of gaming in Nevada. This bill is critical to our state’s economy, and ensures that we will continue to be the gold standard for gaming regulation,” proclaimed Governor Brian Sandoval.
Licences to a number of companies have already been approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission including: IGT, WMS, SHFL Entertainment, and South Point Poker. Interestingly, AB114 also authorizes the state of Nevada to enter into compacts with other states to offer Internet poker.
Global Betting and Gaming Consultants has compiled some forecasts for internet gambling revenues in the two states based on what is known at present.
But the problems in New Jersey appear to be more deep-rooted than just the current financial crisis. Attempts to reinvigorate Atlantic City have struggled and the much vaunted new Revel casino and resort has filed for bankruptcy just a year after it opened. Revel is looking to restructure its US$ 1.5 billion in debts so that it can continue operating. Atlantic City also had to contend with Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, which forced the closure of the casinos, and did nothing to help Revel’s first year of operations.
Against such a backdrop of economic and social factors the importance of the revenues and licensing fees that e-gaming could bring each state cannot be overstated. One measure of the importance was the speed with which Nevada acted when New Jersey announced its legislation. There is an opportunity for one state to become the focal point of regulated internet gambling the US, and it is one that neither can afford to miss.