Nevada Assemblyman William Horne, who launched the latest Nevada attempt to legalise intrastate online poker recently, told an AOL writer this week that he was urged by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not to pursue the matter until Congress changes the law...in other words asking him to wait for a federal rather than state solution.
The irony is that Reid himself pushed for federal legalisation in the last session of Congress, and his bill achieved little progress.
Fortunately, Nevada Democrat Horne has a mind of his own, and consequently rebuffed the influential Reid's request.
Horne believes that setting up a way for both residents and tourists in the Silver State to play on licensed and regulated poker websites would create thousands of high-paying tech jobs and add an estimated $60 million to the state's desperately depleted coffers.
"I just don't think Nevada has to sit back and wait for the federal government to get it done," Horne told AOL News. "I've got 13.6% unemployment. I don't have the luxury of waiting to see if the feds are going to get it done. We've seen how contentious things are in D.C."
Even the Poker Players Alliance, which has been an advocate of the federal approach to legalisation, appears to be supportive of Horne's Nevada intrastate proposal. Executive director John Pappas told AOL that his members favour the Nevada legislation, which would allow players in the state to wager in games against players either within Nevada or in countries where it is legal. It would also allow the state to make compacts with other states that also legalise online poker.
The bill guards against any denial of licenses on grounds of previous activity in the US market, something that has attracted the support of Pokerstars.
"Nevada matters because if Nevada regulators, which have the longest history of regulating gaming in the U.S., say it's something that can and should be regulated, it undercuts a lot of the arguments that Internet gaming can't be regulated," Pappas said.
Taking an opposite view is the powerful Nevada Resort Association, which represents the state's casino industry. Although Pokerstars lobbyist Richard Perkins told AOL News that negotiations were under way and that a compromise could be struck in which out-of-state poker websites would have to partner with existing Nevada casino licensees to operate in the state, the Association's president said it remained committed to the federal route.
Virginia Valentine, the resort association's president, said: "We still believe that it's illegal, and we don't support getting in front of the federal government. If it was already legal, the federal government wouldn't be considering legalizing it. Apparently there are people in the federal government who think it's illegal."
Horne also faces a time constraint; unless the bill is passed by the Nevada Assembly by April 15 it will die for this legislative session.
Perkins, a former speaker of the Nevada Assembly, is urging lawmakers not to be left behind, and reiterated to AOL: "Nevada has always led the world in licensing and gaming operations, and we have the gold standard. We don't want to be No. 3 or No. 5 or No. 10. We never have been before."
The Nevada initiative is just one of several ongoing in the United States at present. There are two competing bills in California, another in Florida and yet others in Hawaii and Iowa. Earlier this year a New Jersey attempt was stalled by the state governor and is currently being re-worked by its author.
Pappas told AOL: "There's been a slow drip for a while in Florida, California and New Jersey for the last two years, and now just a number of other states are realizing the opportunity. They realize their citizens are playing, and they want to capitalize from the consumer protection and revenue perspective. I imagine other states will come out of the woodwork as well."
Source: InfoPowa News