Nevada Online Poker

Nevada was the first state to legalize online poker.  The bill allowing the Nevada Gaming Control Board to draft online poker regulations was signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval on June 16, 2011.  The Nevada Gaming Control Board passed state online poker regulations on December 22, 2011 by a 4-0 vote.

On April 30, 2013, Ultimate Poker opened.  It was the first regulated online poker room to ever operate in the U.S. It ceased operations on November 17, 2014.  That left just two online poker rooms in Nevada.

WSOP launched for real money on September 19, 2013.    Real Gaming became the third Nevada poker site in February 2014.  Real Gaming and WSOP are only available to players located within Nevada at the time of wager.

WSOP.com holds nearly 100% of all Nevada online poker traffic.  South Point’s Real Gaming has virtually no players.  Its software is considered unusable by any player that has ever seen a modern platform.

AcePlay has received approval for a Nevada interactive license, but has yet to go live for real money.  Regulated online poker has since launched in Delaware and New Jersey.  Nevada shares poker players with Delaware through WSOP.com.

Treasure Island originally partnered with 888 in Nevada.  The site never got off the ground.  Treasure Island launched a subscription site in May 2016.

DOJ Wire Act Opinion Changes

The U.S. Department of Justice released a change in their opinion on the Wire Act of 1961 the following day.  While the release date seemed suspect, it was actually in response to an August 2011 inquiry by the Illinois and New York State Lotteries.  These lotteries wanted an opinion on whether it would be legal for these states to sell lottery tickets over the internet using out of state payment processors.

The Department of Justice stated that this would be legal and that the Wire Act did not apply to anything but interstate sports gambling.  This change of opinion gave interstate online poker the green light, provided that state legislatures approved regulated online poker.

Nevada Interactive Gaming Regulations

The Nevada Gaming Control Board set several guidelines for online poker companies operating in the state.  All companies involved with online poker must pass a suitability process to receive a license.  This includes a full background check of all major officers within the company.  All employees must pass similar licensing requirements that are standard for traditional gaming employees that work in the state.

Licenses are broken up into three groups.  These groups are operators, manufacturers, and service providers.  Licensed companies must meet several operating requirements.  Players must be at least 21 years of age.  Operators must verify the age and identity of players.

Online poker play is restricted to players that are physically located within the state of Nevada at the time of play and the software must be able to verify the player’s location.  Players will not have to be Nevada residents to play.  It will be open to all tourists as long as they are within the state lines while they are logged into the online poker network.

All online poker operators are required to keep player funds in a segregated account and be able to account for all players funds at all times.  This prevents a shortfall of cash that plagued several failed online poker rooms in the past including Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet.  This guarantees that all withdrawals can be fulfilled immediately upon request.

Players are allowed to make cash deposits at the host casino in cash.  Credit cards, debit cards, electronic checks, ewallets, paper checks, bank wires, money orders or cashier’s checks will also be allowed.  Electronic methods would be allowed over the internet as long as a player’s age and identity have been verified by the casino.

Nevada Mobile Sports Betting Legal

Online gambling is not new in Nevada.  Online and mobile sports betting were approved in 2010.  Station Casinos, William Hill, South Point and Cantor Gaming all offer online and mobile sports betting within the state of Nevada.  The requirements for offsite sports betting are similar to the online poker regulations.  Internet players must use an intranet connection based in Las Vegas.  The GPS device in mobile phones prevents players from making bets outside of the state.

There is also an intranet casino product available in casinos with a Cantor Gaming sports book.  Players can make a deposit at the sports desk and receive a hand held device with several casino games.  The player can go back to receive their balance when they are done playing.  This is a popular product for off track racing and sports book players.

Nevada Senators and Representatives Are Pro Online Poker

Most politicians in Nevada are in favor of regulating online poker on a federal level.  Industry observers agree that there is a need for online poker on the federal level as the player pool within Nevada is likely to be too small to sustain the type of games that online poker players are used to playing in the United States.  There is also a concern for how other states will regulate online poker.  It would hurt the liquidity of all participating states if some states refused to allow interstate player pools.

Nevada is hoping to play a large role in the future of online poker in the United States.

Nevada Gambling History

It is only fitting that Nevada is the first state to license online poker as they were the first state with legalized brick and mortar gambling.  The state legalized gambling on March 19, 1931.  Nevada, and specifically Las Vegas, has been the long time gambling capital of the world ever since.  Even though Macau passed Nevada in gaming revenue in the middle of the last decade, Nevada is still the Mecca for gambling in the Western Hemisphere.  In addition to the slots, table games and poker, Nevada remains the only state where single game sports gambling is legal.

While most forms of gambling are legal, Nevada is one of just eight states outlaws a state lottery.  The state’s constitution does not allow for the state to be in the gambling business and expressly forbids state lotto type games.  Lottery expansion is opposed by the casino industry, seemingly to prevent any competition for the gambling dollars.

Read the Nevada online poker law here.

Status of Nevada Online Poker

Legal and regulated online poker launched in Nevada on April 30, 2013. Ultimate Poker was the only site that went live that day. It held a monopoly until September 17, 2013. WSOP.com became the second legal Nevada poker site on that date. Real Gaming became Nevada’s third regulated poker site in February 2014.

Ultimate Poker

Ultimate Poker was plagued with problems from its launch. Its software was of very poor quality. There were few software features. It often crashed and froze. There was a memory leak that kept many players from being able to multi-table for any serious amount of time. The only game available on the original platform was Texas Hold’em.

Improved Platform

The second version released by Ultimate Poker created a better platform. It addressed many of the crashes and added a few features. Omaha and Omaha High/Low were also added. This release coincided with the launch of WSOP.com.
It all went downhill from there for Ultimate Poker. It fell from the number one position within six weeks of WSOP.com’s launch. That is all the time WSOP.com needed to win the race with its superior software and brand. Ultimate Poker never managed to improve its software into a viable product.

Ultimate Gaming – The Final Days

Ultimate Gaming ran into problems in New Jersey, the other legal market it served. The company partnered with Trump Taj Mahal. Its parent company, Trump Entertainment, fell into bankruptcy in September 2014. Trump Entertainment owed Ultimate Gaming about $1.5 million when it filed for bankruptcy. Ultimate Gaming left the New Jersey market on October 5, 2014.

The New Jersey closure forced the company to lay off much of its staff. Many of its experienced employees left for the exits. Ultimate Poker remained committed to the Nevada market.That changed after six weeks when it announced it would cease Nevada operations on November 17, 2014. Ultimate Gaming shuttered shortly after that date. It blamed the slow progress of regulation in other states and current business conditions for that decision.

WSOP.com

The Nevada online poker monopoly held by Ultimate Poker ended just over four months after it began. WSOP.com became the larger site of the two, six weeks after it opened. WSOP.com came to market with higher quality software. It included player notes, hand replay, and image hand histories. Ultimate Poker had none of these to offer players.
WSOP.com’s support was a failure and has yet to substantially improve. WSOP.com also did not offer cash deposits and withdrawals when it launched. It added that feature in May 2014 and has since spread it to five Las Vegas casinos under the Caesars brand.

Evolution of WSOP

WSOP.com spread satellites to World Series of Poker events in 2014. In 2015, it held a $1,000 bracelet event online, in addition to the satellites it offered the previous year. The online event was held on July 2, 2015. The final table moved to Rio when it became six-handed two days later. Online bracelet events expanded to three in 2017.
WSOP.com holds a 100% market share. That is because its only competitors folded.

Real Gaming

Real Gaming is owned and operated by South Point, a locals casino south of the Las Vegas Strip. Real Gaming’s software was even worse than Ultimate Poker’s platform at launch. It barely improved during its run.
Real Gaming not only failed to offer any features, it suffered from bugs that even the earliest poker sites never had.

Real Gaming’s Issues

This included the inability for players to sit out. Players could sit at the table and leave when the blind arrived, then sit back down at the table and play without posting. The software was not capable of multi-table tournaments. The geolocation device required a smartphone app, alienating those with older phones. These and many other software issues were never resolved.

Real Gaming Today

Real Gaming has been a failure on every level. It went offline in July 2016. When it returned, all games were missing from the lobby. Real Gaming shut down without making it official. The company appears to be in limbo while waiting for other markets to open.

Interstate Poker Liquidity Sharing

The governors from Nevada and Delaware signed an internet poker liquidity sharing agreement in February 2014. It took a year to get it off the ground. WSOP.com in Nevada links with the Delaware Lottery poker site. The Delaware poker network includes skins with the brands of Dover Downs, Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway.

While this was an accomplishment in terms of showing that interstate poker is possible, it has shown almost zero benefits to Delaware. The site’s online poker revenue has dropped since the expansion, even though players have 10 times the tables available. Delaware’s poker network only rakes about $20,000 per month.