Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey all made headlines in the past year for passing bills allowing online gambling within their state’s borders.
This week, Nevada issued the first-ever gaming license to an internet gambling company in the United States – to 888 Holdings. This follows the recent news that Pokerstars.com, the world’s largest online poker site, made a bid to purchase a struggling Atlantic City brick-and-mortar casino, the Atlantic Club, in anticipation of approval of its license to operate in that state.
888 Holdings is a London-based company that runs a number of online gambling sites including casino-on-net.com and 888poker.com. They stopped allowing U.S. residents from gambling on their sites after the enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2011. They still managed to climb up the ladder of online gambling companies over the years and now are the fourth-largest online poker site in the world. 888poker.com even offers a tournament to their customers with a grand prize of an ownership stake in a racehorse!
888 Holdings will now be able to set up shop in Nevada to operate online gaming for other Nevada-based gaming companies. The first property to enter in to an agreement with 888 is Caesars. 888 will design and provide the technology for Caesars’ online poker rooms.
The most interesting thing about the Nevada law is that it allows the state to enter into compacts with other states to provide them with online gaming. Backers of the law are hopeful that the tide is turning on the U.S. Government’s opposition to online gambling, and that the path back to online wagering lies in state-by-state legislation.
Horse racing fans in most U.S. states already have the ability to wager on races online. Horse racing was not included in the UIGEA.
Where for a long time brick-and-mortar gaming companies have opposed expansion of online gambling, in the world of horse racing the industry has (perhaps reluctantly?) come to embrace it.
The effect of the online poker boom of 2003-2011 on brick-and-mortar poker rooms was obvious to casinos in Nevada. The attendance in poker rooms skyrocketed. By 2006, it seemed every casino in Las Vegas had its own poker room. The impact of the post-2011 UIGEA enforcement also was clear. Many of those poker rooms are now gone. Online wagering doesn’t take gamblers away from the tables/windows, it creates new gamblers, and therefore new customers.