THE FIGHT: Lipparelli Hints at Intrastate Future, Zynga Getting Ready for Real Money

During a meeting of the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee this week, Mark Lipparelli, chairman of the state Gaming Control Board, projected that intrastate Internet poker could be on offer before the next legislative session begins in February. He said that Internet poker license applications submitted by casino operators including Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts will be heard by the Control Board and its sister body, the state Gaming Commission, in the next two to three months. Late last month, the board and the commission approved Bally Technologies and International Game Technology for licenses to provide Internet poker software. A third license application, for gambling technology vendor Shuffle Master, was approved by the commission on Thursday.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Native American tribal leaders were urged to oppose efforts by Senate leadership to stealthily jam an Internet poker bill through Congress without tribal consultation. Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California, whose district includes several tribal casinos, said at a policy summit Tuesday that tribes should “get tough” on Harry Reid and Jon Kyl, who are reportedly nearing an agreement on draft Internet poker legislation. “I think it’s time that you stand up and say what’s happening in Congress is just flat out wrong,” she was quoted by as saying. “I think the notion that anybody would try to ram an Internet gambling bill through Congress without the light of day, without a clear, rational debate … is a mistake.”

Tribes are in the process of drafting their own federal poker bill. Indian affairs committee staff on Wednesday circulated draft legislation that, among other things, would authorize tribes to enter into an Internet poker regulatory program overseen jointly by the Secretary of Commerce and qualified, local tribal gaming regulators. A copy of the Reid-Kyl draft legislation, however, has not emerged.

Zynga, maker of popular social games like “Farmville” and “Zynga Poker,” announced plans this week to enter the world of real-money Internet poker. During a conference call with investors, Mark Pincus, the company’s chief executive, said Zynga intends to roll out a number of Internet gambling products in regulated international markets in the first half of 2013. He said the company is not currently planning to launch a real-money poker product in the United States, but said that the company may lobby Congress for Internet poker regulation. “I think we would like to participate in the conversation,” he said in a recent interview CNN Money.

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