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Gambling and poker has been a big part of Nevada’s culture going back to the gold rush days. The state attempted to enact restrictions on gambling over the years but they essentially failed as these laws did little to quench the appetite of Nevadans.
In 1864, Nevada became the first state to regulate gambling, which didn’t work all that well, and they ended up decriminalizing certain forms of it 5 years later, in 1869, and gamblers were pretty well left alone to enjoy themselves.
This continued until 1909 when all forms of gambling were made illegal once again. These laws became more relaxed as the years went on, as licensed card rooms opened up around the state to compete with the many unlicensed ones (1).
Finally, in 1931, the state legislature enacted Assembly Bill 98, which legalized gambling in the state, including poker games. Legal casinos and poker rooms started popping up immediately. This is the legislation that began the bonanza of gambling in Nevada that we see today.
The industry grew rather slowly at first, with hotels springing up to go along with the card rooms and gambling parlors, which began to attract tourists to the area. In the mid 1940’s, as things started to take off more, the state started imposing a gambling tax, to look to bolster tax revenues, and also started imposing rules and regulations to gain a greater level of control over the industry.
As the years went on, the industry grew, as more and bigger casinos were built. It is now a huge operation, and while things have suffered a bit of late, revenues still are in the area of a billion dollars per month (2).
Nevada’s Online Poker Laws
Nevada was the first state to attempt to legalize online poker, and on February 21, 2013, Nevada governor Brian Sandoval signed Assembly Bill 114 into law. This allowed the regulation of online poker in Nevada, as well as permitting the state to enter into agreements with other states to share players and operations between them (3).
State authorities have already been successful in coming to agreement with another state, Delaware, who they recently signed a compact with (4). New Jersey is also looking to seek compacts with other states, but so far the score is Nevada 1, New Jersey 0.
In terms of the laws itself, this caused an amendment in existing Nevada gaming control legislation, by way of Regulation 5A, Operation of Interactive Gaming, which sets forth in detail the regulations pertaining to the operation of online poker in the state (5).
Only the larger casinos in Nevada are permitted to apply for a license, which is limited to offering poker only, and they may team up with partners to help them manage these operations, who must also obtain a license to do so.
So this ended up opening the door to players in Nevada being now able to access online poker from their computers and mobile devices, to go along with the already thriving land based poker already available in the state. Nevada has been well known for years as a hub for poker and has been made even more so by being the first state to roll out playing it from home on a computer.
Nevada Online Poker Sites
If you are looking to play online poker and you live in Nevada, the wait is over, and you can now sign up and log in to one of the poker rooms that are online and play to your heart’s content.
Along with the peace of mind that comes from being able to play online poker with the assurance that what you are doing is fully approved and condoned by the government, one of the biggest benefits of this is the sheer ease of moving money in and out of the poker site of your choice, without having to mess around with workarounds and having to wait weeks for your cashouts to be sent by check.
There are currently two main poker sites operating in Nevada, WSOP.com and Ultimate Poker, but several other casinos are planning on adding online poker soon. We’ll have to see how well they will do and whether they can take much business from the two already established sites, as well as attracting some new business, but for now let’s look at the two current candidates for your business:
WSOP.com: WSOP.com is currently the largest online poker room in Nevada, being owned by giant Caesar’s Entertainment, who also own the World Series of Poker as well. They have chosen to associate this very well known poker brand with their online poker offering as well.
They are the class of the field right now, with the most traffic as well, and currently have about twice as many players online as their competitor, Ultimate Poker. Ultimate’s numbers have fallen off quite a bit lately in fact, with a significant number of their players moving over to WSOP.
So the poker players in Nevada are voting in a sense and they are voting more for WSOP, for whatever that’s worth. New players at WSOP get a 100% match of their first deposit, up to a maximum of $400, along with some free tournament entries, in addition to the other promotions they run there.
Caesar’s has teamed up with leading online poker provider 888.com, who run the second most successful poker site in the world, and their expertise, along with the expertise of Ceasar’s as a world leader in gaming overall, has proven to be an excellent combination.
Ultimate Poker (now closed):
Ultimate Poker was the first online poker site in Nevada and continues to do pretty well, even though they have struggled somewhat over the last little while. It hasn’t been that the quality of the poker site has suffered, but they are a smaller company overall than their competitor and seem to lack the marketing firepower that Caesar’s seems to have over them. Ultimate Poker is owned by Station Casinos who own several casino properties including the Red Rock. So while their company isn’t anywhere near as large as the biggest ones, this still is an impressive gaming company, and they do know what they are doing. So the traffic on this site is lighter for sure but not so light that it doesn’t merit having an account here and especially doesn’t merit not giving them a try. With only two poker rooms in the state worth looking at right now and not a ton of action at either of them it does make a lot of sense to have accounts at both if you can manage it. Ultimate Poker does have a first time deposit bonus of 100% of your deposit up to $500 to tempt you to do just that, as well as an array of other promotions.
(1) History of Gaming In Nevada, 1864-1931.
(2) Las Vegas Review Journal, Mar 28, 2014.
(3) Las Vegas Sun, February 21, 2013
(4) Las Vegas Review Journal, February 25, 2014.
(5) Regulation 5A: Operation of Interactive Gaming