Legal Nevada Online Gambling

Nevada is ahead of the pack when it comes to legal gambling, both live and online. While three states now possess laws allowing it, operations for online gambling have so far only commenced in Nevada, while Delaware and New Jersey are working to get things started later this year. In this guide we’ll look at the laws which have enabled this situation for Nevada, the current state for online casino play, and the future outlook for the state.

Since Ultimate Poker opened its doors to Nevada residents for online poker [1] at the beginning of May 2013, there has been widespread expectation amongst Nevadans that they will see online casinos catering to the state springing up, alongside of course further sites offering online poker. There will undoubtedly be more online poker sites following in the wake of Ultimate poker, including WSOP.com which is already running play money games. However, the situation is not going to be so straightforward for online casinos, for specific legal reasons which we will examine in this guide.

What online gambling can I legally do in Nevada?

As far as state law is concerned, you can legally wager on online poker sites licensed to run in Nevada. However the Gaming Control Act [2] which has allowed this development with online poker does not currently include provision for online casino games, meaning that unlike New Jersey and Delaware, no-one in Nevada is currently preparing to launch licensed online casinos. There are developments in the works which some dare to hope might allow for this to happen, but also a number of stumbling blocks still in the way.

While Ultimate Poker currently hold the monopoly on real money online poker wagering in Nevada, this will be a short lived affair, with a number of other sites due to open soon. Online casino betting is certainly a matter of interest to many parties in Nevada, because as is well known, poker constitutes a tiny percentage of profits derived from physical casino betting, and the same is likely to hold for online play. The number of online poker players would be dwarfed by those who would log on to wager in casino games.

This is why there is such business excitement surrounding the laws being passed in New Jersey, as they seemingly allow online casino betting as well as poker. For this to apply in Nevada would require laws to be passed, or at least the existing Act to be amended, something which cannot occur in legislation until the next meeting of the Nevada Legislature in two years’ time.

A number of partnerships between tech companies and brick-and-mortar casinos are in the works at the moment, as a result of these changes in state legislation, most notably between Caesar’s Entertainment Corp and 888 Holdings.[3]

One thing you can definitively do from Nevada is wager on Nevada-licensed online sports betting sites. Nevada is the only state in which sport betting is legal, taxed, and regulated [4]. It is the only state where you can wager on single event sports, legally that is. Delaware is hard on Nevada’s heels in this regard.

Read More State Laws

Are There Any New Nevada Online Casino / Gambling Developments?

Several developments are on-going in the rapidly changing face of Nevada gaming law.

First of all, a new law has been passed allowing Nevada to operate and pursue business links interstate [5], which is a complex development whose ramifications both within the state and nationwide are not yet entirely clear. The state law allows other states to work with Nevada in allowing access to Nevada licensed online poker.

A similar bill is being passed in New Jersey, and it is widely believed that the two states are in a “race” to capitalise on this possibility of increasing traffic to the licensed sites. It is not yet known what the response will be to this on a federal level [6].

It is clear, however, from a legal perspective that this specific move will not necessarily pave the way for any licensed casino websites in Nevada, as can be seen from this legal advice [7] published on the Nevada Gaming Commission website.

As is well understood from the Pokerstars precedent, no site which continued to act illegally in accepting US players after 2005 (after this was deemed illegal) will be allowed to gain a license in Nevada for a period of ten years. Known as the “bad actor clause” , the consequence of this is that none of the major online casinos which have turned a blind eye to US players’ wagers in recent years would stand a chance at getting licensing, even if the law currently allowed casino wagering under the new Gaming Act.

Present law in Nevada also restricts the capacity to enter the online gaming market [8], essentially to those who can afford a half million dollars for the license, and in practice mostly to existing major casino resorts. Some have complained that this is strangling an emergent market, but others claim that it’s essential to reduce competition.

The fact is that for those wishing to play licensed casino games online, it remains somewhat positive that the major players likely to be running licensed poker gaming will be connected to major resorts whose dominant form of land-based profit comes from non-poker wagering such as roulette and other house games. It is presumed that these bodies will be lobbying for laws to be passed which expand the remit for online wagering to include casino type games.

Another recent law, passed at Nevada state and Senate level, was the provision for entity betting. In simple terms, this would allow entities such as groups or companies to place bets on sports as well as for individuals to do so. This bill “disappeared” at Assembly level [9], which frequently means that the powers that be do not feel the time is right to attempt to pass it. Even those who lobbied for the bill do not have clarity on what will happen next with this one, nor on how it might relate to online wagering.

What is the Future for Legal Online Gambling in Nevada?

This is the million dollar question, but it is still impossible to answer at this point in time.

It may be that those resorts which achieve licenses for online gaming begin by offering poker, push ahead with interstate gaming without incurring federal action, and eventually lobby for and achieve legislation for casino betting too. It is however certain this couldn’t occur without further laws being passed or amended.

Of course it may also be that the tide turns the other way, that the interstate gaming is stamped out federally, and that Americans in Nevada and elsewhere have to choose between playing live casino games in a physical Vegas resort, wagering on sites which are welcoming US players illegally, or just not playing casino games.

What Could Happen to Me if I Play at Online Casinos in Nevada?

You’d need to consult a lawyer for a more definitive answer, but even they might not give you one. The consensus seems to be that it’s likely nothing would happen to you personally, unless you were unlucky enough to have money lost that was in an online account held by a company indicted or shut down for allowing US players. We of course do not condone such activity. If you want to stay within the letter of the law, and only play on sites which are legally licensed, you won’t be playing online casino games in Nevada any time too soon. Nonetheless there is change in the air in Nevada and in the USA itself with regard to this issue at this point in time. A lot can happen in two years, so watch this space.

References for this Article

  1. [1]NYDailyNews.com: Online poker is back: First legal website launches in Nevada
  2. [2]Gaming.nv.gov: Nevada Gaming Control Act and Ancillary Statutes
  3. [3]Americangaming.org: Sports Wagering
  4. [4]ReviewJournal.com: Internet wagering attracts crowd; how will Nevada fare?
  5. [5]MarketPlace.org: In Nevada, online gambling poised to go interstate
  6. [6]ABCNews.com: What's next after Nevada legalizes online interstate gaming
  7. [7]Gaming.NV.Gov: Reply Comments Concerning Interstate Agreements for Interactive Gaming
  8. [8]Lasvegassun.com: Only bing fish allowed to swim in Nevada's online gambling
  9. [9]CalvinAyre.com: Entity betting legislation fizzles out in Nevada