Nevada has had a strange run as a “progressive” state, one often mired in contradiction. A California resident forced to wait 10 days to buy any sort of firearm has long been able to cross the border and come back to their home state with a truck full of assault weapons, rifles, and shotguns. Taking a trip to a whorehouse was never demonized but rather legalized with outfits like Mustang Ranch. “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas,” has seemingly become the state’s mantra. At the same time, Nevada has remained a “conservative” state, and until around the turn of the millennium, that same California resident crossing into Nevada was warned with massive billboards that even the possession of a half a joint of “medical” marijuana carried a mandatory jail sentence.
Yesterday saw the first legal poker site go online, though play is limited to Nevada residents age twenty-one or over who can verify this. UltimatePoker.com has the distinction of being the first to go live. Players will be limited to nightly games with prizes of $1,000 though Sunday will see players able to take home up to $10,000. Before taxes that is, as potential tax revenue is the primary move behind this groundbreaking change in online gaming in the United States.
In 2006, the U.S. Congress passed a draconian bill outlawing online gaming. This forced an exodus of gambling sites to other countries where betting online is not only smiled on but promoted. Just watch a football game in Europe. A number of teams proudly endorse gaming sites. Look at the most valuable sports franchise in the world, Real Madrid. They happily wear the logo of bwin. Watch a premiership game in the UK and you will be inundated with half-time commercials offering in-game betting online. Sky Sports, who covers EPL Football, even has their own website for gaming purposes.
UltimatePoker.com is presently operating on a 30 day license but if all goes well we can expect to see them gain a long term agreement in the near future. And while Nevada may be the first, we can also expect the state to be joined by Connecticut and New Jersey soon in a quest for tax revenues. The United States needs to re-investigate its policies regarding online gaming. With debt and deficit issues, they are missing out on a large chunk of tax revenues.