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Nevada Online Poker Update

Recently updated online gaming regulations published by the Nevada Gaming Commission highlight several critical differences between offshore websites and those expected to serve the United States. For one, players with endorsements will not be able to play under surreptitious, secondary accounts and will be forced to clearly identify themselves at the tables.

Another difference: player-to-player transfers will be strictly prohibited, with players permitted to use only the sites’ deposit and withdrawal systems to kick start accounts. Money laundering and tax evasion are the primary concerns for regulators, though the news will disappoint players involved in staking agreements.

The latest round of updates comes as no surprise. The Nevada Gaming Commission has been tweaking and clarifying regulations in preparation for a legalized, intrastate online poker market—expected in late 2012 or early 2013.

Last week the commission addressed concerns pertaining to player identification and age verification. Nevada announced plans for regulated firms to head identification and verification efforts.

Late last month, Las Vegas’ South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa and Reno’s Monarch Casino received unanimous approval for the state’s first operator licenses. Global Cash AccessHoldings (GCA), which provides cash access and data intelligence services to the gaming industry, also received final approval.

More recently on September 7, PokerTrip Enterprises, which operates All Vegas Poker and The Poker Atlas, was given the nod to become Nevada’s first approved affiliate site. PokerTrip generates revenue by driving traffic and exposure to brick-and-mortar casinos and hopes to do the same with online poker sites. Jon Friedberg, the company’s chief executive, will appear before the Nevada Gaming Commission by September 20 for final approval.

While Nevada is pressing ahead with plans to have intrastate online poker in full swing by the end of this year, federal legislation is being put on hold. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported earlier this week that Fitch Ratings Service released a report indicating that federal legislation is “unlikely” anytime soon. “Political gridlock in Washington and retirement of key proponents of online gaming could push discussion of the issue into 2013,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Last week Fitch downgraded its rating on Caesars Entertainment from stable to negative, urging the casino operator to look at Chapter 11 bankruptcy to restructure its debt.

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