Nevada legalizes interstate online gambling, Zynga breathes sigh of relief

February 22, 2013

In a race to beat rival gambling state New Jersey, Nevada has passed a law making interstate online poker betting legal. Nevada was so desperate to beat the Garden State to the punch that the famously gambling-oriented state pushed Bill AB114 (.pdf) through in one day as an emergency measure.

New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie vetoed an online gambling bill in the past, but indicated that he may sign another version within a week.

The bill will allow Nevada to contract with other states in order to offer online poker and other types of gambling, excluding sports wagers. Other states, according to the International Business Times, must pass laws allowing potential digital high-rollers to gamble online within their borders. Nevada gambling regulators, The Associated Press reports, will begin to codify such contracts soon.

Online gambling across state borders was traditionally illegal under the Wire Act of 1961, The Verge reports, but a 2011 Court of Appeals ruling claimed such restrictions only applied to sports betting. Other types of gambling — table games like blackjack and poker — can be conducted over the Internet.

This could be great news for Internet-centric gaming companies like Zynga, which pressured Nevada to adopt Internet-friendly gambling laws in the past. The financially troubled company has found a market in online gambling, and has reached overseas in order to become a leader in the online gambling industry. Zynga reorganized itself in late 2012 in order to focus its efforts as a gambling companyThe IBTimes reports.

So far, up to 20 companies are lining up to pay fees and claim licenses to foster online gambling.

Those licenses can be a gamble of their own. The Nevada Legislature set a fee of $500,000 for companies looking to put a Digital Sin City on their own domain. It could have been more: Nevada Assembly Majority Leader William Horne (D), representing Las Vegas, pushed hard for a $1 million fee in the original bill. Licence renewals are priced at $250,000, and the Nevada Gambling Commission holds the rights to adjust the fees at their discretion.


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