Nevada Stamp

Nevada Measure AB414 Seeks to Make Interstate Gaming Compacts Poker-only

A curious legislative measure recently introduced in Nevada would seek to clarify existing gaming law in that state to ensure that “interactive gaming,” as defined for the state’s regulatory purposes, would be limited only to online versions of card games already defined as poker.

nevada-stampHowever, the new bill’s real intent seems designed to block the state’s potential accept to multi-state lotteries as well as the possibility of large-scale online slots jackpots that pool players from multiple casinos.  Online lottery sales, in particular, are a real possibility, as a handful of other states have already legalized the online sale of lottery tickets.

Nevada, under the political dominance of its casino industry, has never allowed a state-run lottery, nor does it participate in multistate lotteries such as Powerball or MegaBucks.  (Despite its pro-gambling history, Nevada is one of only six such states not to allow or participate in multi-state lotteries.  The “Megabucks”-branded jackpot slots at many Nevada casinos link only in-state properties.)

The new bill, AB414 (Nevada Assembly Bill 414), was submitted earlier this month as a partisan measure by the Nevada Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, which is also where the bill was immediately assigned upon its initial submission.  The bill carries no formal title at this time, just the description “Revises provisions governing agreements with certain governments for purposes of interactive gaming.”

Exactly what those revisions entail is the curiosity involved within AB414.  Nevada is one of only three US states to have formally authorized and regulated online poker, along with New Jersey and Delaware.  However, Nevada is the only one of the three to come online as a poker-only state; other casino games are also available in the other two states.

It was, by all historical accounts, the original intent of Nevada to be a poker-only state for online gambling purposes, even if some of the state’s casino corporations eye a more open online-gambling future.  However, the language that exists in Nevada’s gambling-related statutes may have also unintentionally opened up a small window for traditional casino games to be offered online.

AB414 appears designed to block that possible eventuality.  However, it’s offered in the guise of a change that would allow Nevada’s governor — at the present time, Brian Sandoval — to negotiate multistate player-sharing compacts only as they apply to online poker.

Here’s the possible issue.  The original form of the specific statute that defined “interactive gaming,” as authorized back in 2013, states this:

NRS 463.016425  “Interactive gaming” defined.
1.  “Interactive gaming” means the conduct of gambling games through the use of communications technology that allows a person, utilizing money, checks, electronic checks, electronic transfers of money, credit cards, debit cards or any other instrumentality, to transmit to a computer information to assist in the placing of a bet or wager and corresponding information related to the display of the game, game outcomes or other similar information. The term:
(a) Includes, without limitation, Internet poker.
(b) Does not include the operation of a race book or sports pool that uses communications technology approved by the Board pursuant to regulations adopted by the Commission to accept wagers originating within this state for races, or sporting events or other events.
2.  As used in this section, “communications technology” means any method used and the components employed by an establishment to facilitate the transmission of information, including, without limitation, transmission and reception by systems based on wire, cable, radio, microwave, light, optics or computer data networks, including, without limitation, the Internet and intranets.

The problem is that 1(a) says yes to Internet poker, while 1(b) gives a specific no to all forms of sports betting.  However, even though poker is the only game specifically approved, other casino games just aren’t mentioned.

The newly introduced AB414 would remove the possibility of other games possibly being offered online by Nevada casinos, but it’s been added into a separate section of the Nevada gaming codes, dealing with the Nevada governor’s right to negotiate gaming compacts with other governments.

The above passage, would, under AB414, have a pointer section added to it under as a new line to a separate definition as follows:

2. … (b) “Internet poker” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 463.747.

NRS 463.747 is the section that authorizes Nevada’s governor to negotiate with other entities.  Except, despite all the news reports about AB414, all that code is left unchanged.  Instead, the above insertion leads to a second pair of text insertions, as follows:

5 … (b) “Internet poker” means the conduct of the traditional game of poker, and any derivative of the game of poker, wherein two or more players play against each other and wager on the value of their hands, through the use of communications technology, as defined in subsection 2 of NRS 463.016425.

And…:

6. For the purposes of this section, “interactive gaming” does not include any gambling game other than Internet poker.

It’s through this little sleight-of-text that the unnamed members of the state’s Judiciary Committee are seeking to reinforce Nevada’s online-poker-only stance.  The bill’s structure, however, is obscure, and there’s no clear indication as to why such a sideways method of inserting what amounts to a ban on all forms of online gambling (excepting poker) was done in this way.

It’s also not quite clear who’s behind the bill.  AB414’s submission as a partisan bill via its sponsoring committee keeps individual legislators from being identified as bill sponsors.  Nevada political beat writer Jon Ralston (“RalstonReports”) Tweeted several days ago that the bill was another effort funded by Sheldon Adelson, but Ralston offered no supporting evidence for that claim.  We can’t say for sure ourselves, even though AB414 appears more in line with Gov. Sandoval’s previous poker-only statements rather than with Adelson’s ban-everything approach.

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