Online Gaming in Nevada
Nevada was one of the first states to pass pro-gambling legislation after the Department of Justice gave states the authority to host online gaming within their borders. Legislation was passed and implemented in February of 2013, and the first poker sites went live just two months later.
The new law made it legal to offer both poker and casino games online in Nevada but as of now, only two poker sites are open and accepting players. There are not yet any casino sites, but those are expected to come online in the next year or two.
The two sites that are live right now are WSOP.com and Ultimate Poker. Both sites are peaking at around 200-ish players during prime playing hours. The general consensus among players is that while both sites are great, WSOP.com has the best software.
The only real issue right now is that both sites have low player counts when compared to the heydays of online poker in the US. A couple hundred players is a drop in the bucket compared to the 100,000 players PokerStars once commanded during the height of its reign.
While some people are content to play at these sites, many are still resorting to trusted offshore sites to take advantage of bigger player pools and larger tournaments. If you find the games lacking at today's Nevada gaming sites, you might want to check out a few of these in the meantime:
The Current Situation in Nevada
As momentous as it was to get things moving in Nevada, online gaming is still in its infancy in the US. Player counts at licensed poker sites are measured in the hundreds and we have yet to see any casinos come online. Even so, any progress is good progress. The most important thing is that so far, online poker is working and the sky hasn't come falling down as some of the naysayers predicted.
What we're seeing is a small-scale but successful implementation of online gaming in the US. This is an important first step because everyone is watching how it goes. Even though growth is slow, the most important thing is that the sites get it right. That means providing safe games, avoiding scandals, protecting minors and being active in helping problem gamblers.
Personally, I think the Nevada casinos are playing the long game here. In one interview, the people behind Ultimate Poker mentioned that they didn't mind the slow start and were actually ahead of their predictions. They want to make sure they get it right and set themselves up for nationwide online gaming.
The odds are good that we'll see many more states follow suit. Lawmakers can't seem to cut spending, but it's always a hard sell to raise taxes. Online gaming will look increasingly attractive as states look for new ways to raise money without asking voters to cough up more cash. If it goes well in Nevada, we're likely to see more sites follow suit.
The only real weakness right now is player counts. Gaming sites in Nevada are not all that popular. Really, that's not much of a surprise considering most of the state's permanent population lives near large brick-and-mortar casinos.
However, player counts shouldn't be a problem for too long. The Nevada legislature went back and added clauses to the bill that would allow Nevada to enter reciprocity compacts with other states. This means that if other states agree, poker sites will be allowed to accept players from all states in the compact, resulting in significantly larger player pools.
Safety concerns are understandable when dealing with anything that involves real money and the internet. The two big concerns we hear all the time from prospective players are these:
- How do I know the games are fair?
- Will the sites keep my information safe?
The fairness issue is addressed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The NGCB oversees ALL gaming in Nevada. These are the people who check in on brick-and-mortar casinos, investigate complaints and issue licenses to online gaming sites.
If you feel comfortable placing bets at any major resort on the Strip, you should feel confident placing bets at any website with an NGCB license. Speaking of which, you can see exactly which sites have licenses on this page.
You can also use that page to submit complaints and request help in resolving disputes between you and any licensed gaming site. So if things don't go well or you notice something fishy, recourse is available. These sites are all located in the US and subject to state and federal law.
Having said that, it's highly unlikely any licensed gaming site will ever try to rip you off by rigging the games. These sites stand to earn a ton of money the legitimate way. It would be supremely stupid for them to risk this golden opportunity they have in front of them just to rip off a couple players.
Collusion is another concern along these same lines. If you're worried about that, it may help to know that casinos have their methods for combating collusion. Not only do they take note of IP addresses and physical addresses, but they also know how to identify suspicious betting patterns that may indicate collusion. This has always been a risk in online poker but it has never really been a major problem.
As far as keeping your information safe, there are federal and state regulations that address how businesses must handle customer payment information. Certain steps must be taken to ensure customer safety. This really isn't a big concern for us.
Sure, it's possible a hacker breaks in one day and steals a bunch of credit card numbers, but that happens all the time in other industries anyways. How often do you hear those news alerts about Random Company getting hacked? If your favorite gaming site is ever breached, just cancel your debit card and get a new one from the bank.