In a way Nevada’s online poker bill is dead, as Assembly Bill 258 now contains zero mentions of poker after amendments were adopted on April 25 — just 10 days after the United States Department of Justice indicted the major online poker sites , effectively shutting down their U.S. real-money play.However, the future of online poker in the Silver State has not been officially guillotined, as the intrastate legislation will now focus on “interactive gaming,” which according to William Horne, Assembly chairman and sponsor of the bill, still encompasses card playing. Horne told Card Player that poker might be the first game that Nevada gaming establishments use to enter into in the online realm.When the news broke on Black Friday, Horne said he felt that PokerStars, who was the main force behind AB258, had omitted important information in discussions about potential Nevada online poker regulations.“I was surprised, and then I was feeling angry; not at the DoJ, but at PokerStars.” Horne said. “I am an attorney, and I practice in the area of criminal defense mostly. For an indictment like that to be issued, there had to be an investigation going on for quite some time. I had made some inquiries, as well did one of my colleagues, when we met with them about the legality of online poker, and where they stood on that, and if anything was going on. Nothing was disclosed to us. That kind of angered me, and I believe that they probably had some idea that an investigation was ongoing.”Despite a lengthy working relationship in pushing the bill through the State Assembly this spring, Horne said he hasn’t had any contact with PokerStars since the indictments, and that he’s “sure they have bigger fish to fry right now.”Horne said that despite PokerStars’ exit from the United States scene, whether or not Nevada wants to enter into the area of online gaming has been a policy issue from day one, and efforts have never been about any one company. “It has been about Nevada continuing to be a leader in the gaming world,” Horne said.While Horne admits that the DoJ indictments have created a cloud over online poker in the Nevada legislature, he predicts that his colleagues “at the end of the day will still look at the bill in terms of where Nevada wants to be regarding online gaming.” He said that “it becomes more incumbent on [Nevada] to put regulations in place and to have a solid foundation and regulatory structure ready.”An amendment states: This bill further provides that a license to operate interactive gaming does not become effective until: (1) the passage of federal legislation authorizing interactive gaming; or (2) the United States Department of Justice notifies the Commission or the State Gaming Control Board that interactive gaming is permissible under federal law.Horne acknowledged that it may be good news to Nevada brick-and-mortars that Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker likely will not be future competitors in the United States once federal legislation comes to fruition. But he said that Nevada gaming corporations are well adapted to make changes and compete in the world market regardless of the competition.If the bill completes its journey through the Assembly, it will move on to the Senate, where the hearing process starts all over again. If it passes out of the Senate in its current form, it will go straight to the governor’s office for signature. If the Senate suggests a different version of the bill, the legislation will move to a Congressional Committee to discuss the discrepancies.
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