Online poker agreement faces opposition, uncertain future

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Updated: 2/25/2014 5:49 pm
CARSON CITY, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- Nevada Governor Sandoval signed an internet gaming agreement with Delaware Governor Jack Markell that would allow online poker players in the two states to compete against each other in real time.

The multi-state online gaming agreement is the first of its kind in the country, and it is considered a big move forward for online gambling, which is still an emerging industry. Only Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have legalized online gambling, and Tuesday's announcement could set a precedent for other states as the gaming industry evolves and adapts to internet technologies.

Both Governors believe this agreement is the natural next step to ensure the gaming industry remains at the cutting edge. "We know that more games in more states means more players, which means more revenue in participating states," said Markell.

"I consider this a landmark intersection in the road of gaming history," added Sandoval. "The agreement will harness the vast potential and reach for those possibilities, leveraging them in ways that will greatly benefit our states' prospective economies."

The agreement only applies to online poker in Nevada, which may not have a large impact on revenue on local casinos. According to Mark Nichols, Economics Professor with the Institute for the Study of Gambling & Commercial Gaming at UNR, poker is a small part of overall revenues. "Not very much. Statewide, maybe 1.5%."

Nichols believes the Governors are leading cautiously as the gaming industry inevitably changes, and casinos will have to adapt accordingly. But the future of gaming and its life online is still a big unknown. "Casinos rightly ask, 'what is this going to do? are people going to substitute their gambling onine? are they going to gamble online instead of the actual casinos?'  I don't think anybody knows that yet. "

Nichols says economically, everything is moving online and slowly, the gaming industry is progressing in that direction. This pioneering online gaming agreement will also allow other states to follow suit. Ten other states are looking to legalize online gambling.

However, not everyone is pleased with this agreement. Groups like the coalition to stop internet gambling are concerned online poker will be too easily accessible, and will destroy jobs at brick and mortar casinos. The group, based out of Washington D.C., is financially backed by Sheldon Adelseon, CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
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