Thursday, June 21, 2012 | 4:04 p.m.
Nevada entered the Internet gambling era Thursday when the Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously approved licenses for two leading gaming equipment manufacturers to provide online systems to play poker on the Internet within the state.
The U.S. Justice Department has determined Internet gambling across state lines is illegal, but several states have interpreted the decisions to allow online play within the borders of a state where gambling is legal.
Las Vegas-based Bally Technologies was the first company to be licensed for Internet gambling. Less than an hour later, International Game Technologies, Reno, also was licensed.
Richard Haddrill, CEO of Bally Technologies, said his company has contracted with the Golden Nugget to provide an Internet poker product and, after a routine testing process by regulators, expects it to be ready for play by the end of the year or early 2013. He said the company is negotiating with other prospective customers.
Robert Melendres, executive vice president of emerging businesses for IGT, said his company also is on track to provide its system to customers.
The state’s online gaming regulations require that licensees prove that their systems are capable of identifying players by location and that players are of legal age. Companies also are required to safeguard against money laundering, problem gambling and player collusion.
Thursday’s approval of the licenses — the first in the United States — is another milestone in efforts to allow online gambling, which state leaders believe will boost the casino industry and bring new technology jobs to the state.