PokerStars Goes All-In Nevada: Obstacles Are Great

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:

The world’s largest online poker room, PokerStars, is lobbying heavy for legislation in Nevada that would ultimately allow the company entry into the lucrative US poker market.  PokerStars already has the biggest chunk of US Internet poker players, but it is forbidden from operating from within the US.

The Nevada bill contains wording that specifically allows for free competition within the state’s borders.

Needless-to-say, the state’s major casino operators are opposed.

“Has there ever been any bill passed directly affecting gaming over the opposition of the leading casinos in the state? I would bet no,” said I. Nelson Rose, a gaming attorney and industry consultant based in California, in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun.

MGM Grand and Caesar’s Entertainment, which operates the World Series of Poker, both oppose state legislation.  Instead, those two casino firms are heavily backing federal legislation introduced this past week.  Under that federal measure, PokerStars presumably would not obtain a license. 

From the Las Vegas Sun:

Most in the casino industry think regulated Internet gambling in this country is inevitable, but many don’t want to share the business with a juggernaut like PokerStars.

Among the people in its corner: Randall Sayre, a former Nevada gaming regulator.

Sayre, a PokerStars consultant, says it is shortsighted for Nevada to sacrifice, in the name of protectionism, a golden opportunity to become corporate headquarters for Internet gambling operations in the United States.

“If we don’t approach this in a rational fashion this legislative session, by the time we meet again in two years ... we will be left on the sidelines, which is not a good thing for the traditional gaming industry in Nevada,” Sayre said.

PokerStars will be presenting the state of Nevada with “real” job and tax estimates this week, and those numbers could prove staggering.  Until now, the privately held company has remained tightly lipped over its financials.  Its real cash player base is double that of the company’s closest competition, Full Tilt Poker.  PartyGaming, the world’s third largest Internet poker venture, has real cash player numbers that do not even come close to Full Tilt Poker.  Party went public in 2004 and was the single biggest IPO on the London Stock Exchange that year, bigger even than British Airways.  Three of its main principals made Forbes Billionaire’s list. 

One industry operator joked late last year:  “The Vegas casinos could have bought a company like PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker to get a really big legs up if the US legalized Internet gambling, now I’m not so sure it wouldn’t be the other way around, Full Tilt Poker buying up one of the Vegas casinos.”

And PokerStars has added a little sweetener to the Nevada deal by offering to pay a 4 percent tax in Nevada on the rake collected from the rest of its customers around the world.

Once again, the week ahead is looking quite interesting for the online gambling sector and will be reporting news as it unfolds 24/7.  Be sure to follow us on Twitter for all the latest breaking headlines

- Christopher Costigan, Publisher has been serving the gambling community with news around the clock since September 2000.

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