Nevada Pursues Online Poker Legislation

Only days after New Jersey’s online poker hopes were dashed by Governor Chris Christie, and even as Iowa’s legislature rushes to pass their own intrastate online poker legislation, another state is moving toward legalizing online poker. We’re not talking about Florida or California; the latest entry in the i-poker race is even more obvious: Nevada.

It’s no surprise that Nevada is very much for online gambling. Not only is it the biggest gambling destination in the Western Hemisphere, it’s also home to Senator Harry Reid whose federal online poker proposal came very close to being passed late last year before the new lame duck Congressional session began. Reid’s proposal had widespread support not just from his home state and from obvious organizations like the Poker Players Alliance but also from several of his political peers and from powerful trade groups like the American Gaming Association.

Unfortunately, as we all know, Reid’s federal online poker bill is dead, and it will be a long time before he’ll have a real chance to resurrect it. In the meantime, several states have decided that online gambling could be the revenue generator they desperately need to fill growing budget deficits. Nevada’s new online poker proposal – Bill AB258 – was introduced today by its primary sponsor, Assemblyman William Horne.

Nevada’s strong preexisting pro-gambling stance makes it an obvious target for online gambling legislation. Not only that, but Horne’s got plenty of influence in the state legislature as Chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. As such, he has been able to fast-track his own bill with an initial hearing already on the schedule for March 24. The bill is also receiving plenty of financial backing from gambling megasite PokerStars. PokerStars has even hired former Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins to plead their case before the assembly.

While ultimately the decision to approve Bill AB258 will rest in the hands of the Nevada Gaming Commission, several key figures have already expressed their approval of the proposal, including Senator Harry Reid himself. Unlike Reid’s federal proposal, which would have banned online poker in the U.S. for over a year prior to the new legislation becoming active, AB258 stipulates that preexisting poker sites like would automatically be eligible for licensing.

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