Tuesday, May 24, 2011 | 10:55 a.m.
CARSON CITY – The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved a bill aimed at putting Nevada casinos at the front of the pack if the federal government were to authorize Internet poker.
“We have to have all our ducks in a row and be ready to go the next day,” Assemblyman William Horne, the sponsor of Assembly Bill 258, told the committee.
The bill provides for the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt regulations and to grant licenses to casinos so if Congress passes an Internet poker bill or if the U.S. Department of Justice gives its approval, the state is ready to offer the game.
Internet poker is permitted outside the United States and is generating millions of dollars, Horne said. “The race is on who will do it first.”
The committee accepted an amendment from Peter Ernaut of the Nevada Resort Association to prevent both the state and federal government from imposing a tax at the same time.
Ernaut said if the federal government levies a tax then the state would be prohibited from imposing its gross revenue tax.
The bill says the regulations to be adopted by the gaming commission must “ensure the protection of consumers, prevent fraud, guard against underage and problem gambling and aid in law enforcement efforts.” It also says a license for interactive poker may be issued to a resort-hotel that has held a nonrestricted license for at least five years before the day on which the application is filed.
The bill goes to the full Senate for a vote later this week and then back to the Assembly for agreement on an amendment. Gov. Brian Sandoval has indicated he will back the legislation if Congress or the U.S. Department of Justice approve online poker.