Nevada's Online Gambling Activity Predictions in 2012

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Clearly not everyone is thinking the same when it comes to the future of Nevada and online gambling. Since there are many opinions about the change in the meaning of the Federal Wire Act the voices are speaking and their all speaking in tongues.

When Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Assembly Bill 258 back in June 2011, it directed the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt regulations and to grant licenses to casinos to be ready to offer online poker if and when the federal government approves it. Now that the time is here, there are many casinos gearing up to finally take the step to the next level and others who are not quite jumping on the bandwagon.

“Come February, you’ll see a lot of activity in Nevada around legal online gaming. Some people will jump, we’ll certainly be ready,” said Castle, who joined Shuffle Master in October from Zynga. “The question is which companies will want to go first. “It’s just got accelerated. 2012 is going to be a banner year in many ways.”

Not so fast, Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Andrew Zarnett said. In a recent research report, he told investors that the hyped-up enthusiasm expressed by many Internet poker proponents toward the prospects of federal legalization was misplaced.

“We do not feel it provides clarity that the Department of Justice has softened its stance on all Internet gaming,” said Zarnett, who analyzes and researches the high-yield debt of several casino companies.

Still, Zarnett said the debate over Internet poker has evolved from “whether” some forms of the activity will be legalized to “when” Americans would be able to gamble for money on their home computers.

Jennifer Carleton, a shareholder with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, cautioned that future Justice Department opinions could reverse the latest interpretation.

“Without a doubt, the opinion has significantly altered the gaming landscape with regard to the placing and receiving of wagers over the Internet and possibly opens the door for states to allow online poker and other forms of Internet gambling,” Carleton said. “Gaming practitioners and entrepreneurs interested in Internet gaming must remain alert, attentive and proactive during the period of rapid legislative and regulatory changes that is likely to follow.”

Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli said further analysis of the opinion is needed. “Clearly, there was a major shift in policy understanding,” Lipparelli said. “But it’s too early to jump to any final conclusion.”

Zarnett said Internet poker would roll out on a state-by-state basis in the same manner as other forms of gambling, including lotteries, horse racing and casinos.

“Already some states are working hard to prepare for-profit online gaming,” Zarnett said. “It is clearer now that not-for-profit state lotteries will be involved, maybe even have a first-mover advantage.”

Lipparelli said the agency has received 10 applications for interactive gaming from casino operators, equipment providers and manufacturers. It’s unclear how long investigative process will take. The technologies being proposed will need proper vetting. “The devil is in the details,” Lipparelli said.

Reported by Maggie B.