On Tuesday, South Point Casino owner Michael Gaughan became the first casino executive to publicly support Nevada AB 258, a bill that would give the Nevada Gaming Commission the right to adopt regulations for online poker.
“There is no doubt in my mind that online poker and other games are coming” said Gaughan in a statement released by South Point. “AB 258 would make us a pioneer in the nationwide movement and the leader for the rest of the country to emulate.” According to Gaughan’s statement, AB258 is expected to generate $500 million in yearly revenue to help offset a $2 billion dollar state budget deficit and reduce Nevada’s 13.5% unemployment rate. Revenue would be generated from a 6.75% gross receipts tax from online players in Nevada and a 4% tax from the rake generated by players outside the state.
AB 258, sponsored by Assembly Committee chairman William Horne, differs from other intrastate poker bills as it allows sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to legally operate in the state without having to face a blackout or outright ban. Another section of the legislation would allow players from outside of Nevada to participate in Nevada’s online poker site if the jurisdiction the player is located in has legalized online poker. This development would appear to allow players outside the United States to play on Nevada’s poker site right away. As states allow online poker they could team up with Nevada’s online poker site, similar to the Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries.
PokerStars is supporting the legislation with a pair of heavy hitters behind the scenes working to get the bill passed. Former Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins was hired as a lobbyist, while former Nevada Gaming Control Board member Randall Sayre signed on as a consultant. In a Las Vegas Review-Journal article two weeks ago, Horne and Perkins talked about Pokerstars bringing 500 high-tech jobs to Nevada along with possibly buying a casino. Among the opponents of the bill are Caesars Entertainment and MGM Grand, preferring to support federal legislation on online gambling like the proposed bill by Nevada Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in late 2010.
A hearing on AB258 in the Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee is scheduled for Thursday morning at 8 am PT. You can watch a live stream of the proceedings here. In a separate development, the Nevada Gaming Commission will decide Thursday if the relationship between Caesars Interactive and 888/Dragonfish is suitable under the state’s Foreign Gaming Act.
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