PokerStars Backs Nevada’s Online Poker Efforts

by Lou on March 28, 2011

PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker site, is backing legislation to force the Nevada Gaming Commission to create regulations that would license, permit, and regulate online poker.

Randall Sayre, a former Nevada Gaming Control Board member and now a consultant to PokerStars, believes Nevada would capitalize on numerous economic opportunities available if the measure is passed into law.

Richard Perkins, former Nevada assembly Speaker who is currently PokerStars’ legislative lobbyist, said, “I see internet gaming as the next extension of how Nevada reinvents itself. This is the growth vehicle for the gaming industry worldwide.”

Economist Jeremy Aguero estimated Nevada would collect between $2 million and $3.4 million in tax revenues annually if online poker is legalized in Nevada, and up to $65 million if it captured a quarter of the international market.

“The economic possibilities go beyond tax revenue,” Aguero said. “If the state sets up a structure requiring licensed online poker operators to be headquartered in Nevada, an estimated 1,200 direct jobs and $77 million in direct wages could result.”

Even more economic benefits would accrue if Nevada mandates that all online poker operators make a minimum capital investment in Nevada.  Aguero’s projection shows 3,400 direct new jobs, $200 million in direct wages and about $1.3 billion in total economic activity.

For a few years, I’ve blogged regularly about efforts to regulate and license online poker either at the federal level, or at the state level.  Thus far every attempt has failed to come to fruition—even the efforts in New Jersey, which I believed was poised to become the first state to regulate online, intrastate poker. But the legislation, which received overwhelming support by New Jersey legislators, was vetoed by Gov. Christie, who earlier appeared to be a strong adherent of the proposal.

With internet poker’s zero percent track record in mainstreaming itself through legislation in the US, I’m naturally skeptical about Nevada’s efforts.  Having said that, I remain optimistic that online poker will eventually come to legal fruition somewhere, and legalized, revenue-generated online poker in one state would spur on other states to jump on the bandwagon.

Nevada’s chances are probably better than most other states.  They have an extensive track record in gaming regulation, and gaming is an accepted fact of life there.  But it’s not a done deal yet; not by a longshot.

Like all the other efforts to regulate and tax online poker, we’ll just have to wait and see.  One day soon we’ll be on the winning side.

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