The fight to legalize online gambling has scored a major victory when earlier this month Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed landmark legislation into law authorizing his office to enter into agreements with other states that will in effect allow Nevada-based companies to host interactive online gambling for residents of other states. The bill paves the way for national Internet wagering even though efforts at federal regulation have stalled.
Sandoval and Nevada legislative leaders said it was important for Nevada to remain at the forefront of gambling regulation.
"This is an historic day for the great state of Nevada," Sandoval said, flanked by dozens of state lawmakers. "Today I sign into law the framework that will usher in the next frontier of gaming in Nevada."
Several states have taken up the fight to legalize online gaming since a 2011 declaration by the U.S. Justice Department ruled that only online betting on sporting contests broke federal law. That ruling opened the door for states to legalize some forms of online gambling, even though many have yet to follow through.
Nevada's legislation comes as New Jersey - considers a similar move to legalize online gambling. Republican Governor Chris Christie rejected a measure earlier this month that would have allowed Internet gambling, further opening the door for Nevada to become the first state to enact interstate legislation.
Exactly how the federal government will react to the legislation following its major crackdowns on online gambling sites in the past is yet to be seen. The federal government has actively pursued owners of gaming sites in the past. In April 2011, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office shut down three of the biggest internet poker sites and charged the owners with fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling. The poker companies - including big sites such as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker - were all based overseas and argued they operate outside the reach of U.S. law, but 11 defendants were accused of the charges.
On July 31, 2012, the US government dismissed "with prejudice" all civil complaints against all PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker companies after coming to a settlement with PokerStars which includes PokerStars purchasing Full Tilt. PokerStars and Full Tilt admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which ends all litigation between the government and the poker companies. The criminal indictments remain in place for the named individuals and they have faced on-going lawsuits from former players looking to collect on winnings and deposits.
Global online gambling consists of approximately 17 percent Americans and the total revenue generated from online gambling by residents of the United States equates to $6 billion per year including, online casinos, online sports betting and online poker rooms.