Nevada Legal Gambling and Poker Laws

Nevada Legal Gambling Laws
Legal Poker Sites & Gambling in Nevada

For many, Nevada represents the future of online poker.  As the first state in the US to roll out regulations and systems for licensing online poker operators, Nevada will no doubt play a major role in the next wave of poker played online. 
That's still a bit down the road, however, and poker players in Nevada have a lot of questions about how to use online poker rooms in the present tense.  We'll touch on the outlook for regulated poker in Nevada, cover the steps you'll need to take to play in the current environment and touch on a host of related topics in this Guide to Nevada and Online Poker.

Overview: Online Poker in Nevada

Top Legal Online Poker Sites for Nevada

The number one question we get about online poker in Nevada is "What site should I choose?" We always give the same answer, and that's to look for sites that are legally licensed, offer top-dollar promotions and provide a stable, secure environment for poker.  To save you the time of evaluating all of the rooms available to Nevada online poker players, we've selected the sites that best meet the criteria above and collected them into this list of online poker sites for Nevada:

Can You Play Poker Online in Nevada?

You can, and thousands of people do every day.  Poker is practically the state sport of Nevada, but even with some of the biggest and most famous poker rooms in the world within driving (sometimes walking) distances, many poker players choose to go online for their games.  All of the major US-friendly poker sites welcome players from Nevada, including the top picks on our list above.

Most recent developments

Nevada online poker has recently taken substantial strides that suggest 2013 and 2014 will be big years for regulated real-money Internet poker in the state. Insiders are reporting that Caesars Interactive Entertainment (the division responsible for online gambling) is readying for the launch of their real-money room. We've also seen a number a big-name pros, including Big One for One Drop winner Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari, sign endorsement deals with Nevada license holders.

There have also been shakeups on the legislative front. As New Jersey was signing their online gambling bill into law in February, Nevada was updating their own regulations to allow for interstate compacts, increase license fees, restrict PokerStars from applying for a license and remove the prerequisite of a federal online gambling law.
Get the latest updates in our poker news section.

Online Poker Legal in Nevada

Perusing Nevada gambling law is not an activity for the faint of heart.  As you might imagine, the gambling capital of the world has quite a bit to say law-wise on the issue of betting and wagering.

Any serious analysis of online poker's position with regards to Nevada law must involve a lawyer, and this guide is in no way intended to be anything more than a research aide.  Our goal with this section is simply to outline the very basics of Nevada gambling law so that reviewing the law for yourself is a less-intimidating undertaking:

  1. Nevada law defines gambling as to "deal, operate, carry on, conduct, maintain or expose for play any game as defined in NRS 463.0152, or to operate an inter-casino linked system" (Section 463.0153).  Interestingly, there's nothing in that definition that mentions simply playing at such a game.
  2. So how does NRS 463.0152 define a qualifying "game"?  Pretty broadly: "any game played with cards, dice, equipment or any mechanical, electromechanical or electronic device or machine for money, property, checks, credit or any representative of value."  The section then goes on to list about two dozen examples (one of which is poker).
  3. The majority of penalties against individual gamblers under Nevada law are focused on preventing cheating (Section 465.070).  Just about any form of cheating you can think of is covered by the law, and the penalty for engaging in such behavior - a category B felony - is pretty stiff.
  4. Nevada law does address bets placed online.  Section 465.093 makes it a misdemeanor to "place, send, transmit or relay through a medium of communication a wager to another person or an establishment that is located within or outside of this state."
  5. Receiving such a bet is also a crime under Section 465.092.

The complete regulations governing gambling in Nevada, including the regulations covering online gambling, are housed at the website of the State Gaming Control Board here[1].

The Future of Regulated Online Poker in Nevada

As it currently stands, the online poker industry in Nevada is in something of a wait-and-see mode.  The state has taken many of the necessary steps to build a stringent regulatory process and has issued over a dozen licenses, but the whole project is in limbo as everyone awaits the outcome of federal regulation efforts.  While Nevada would certainly prefer federal regulation, we expect the state to move forward aggressively in 2013 on the interstate compact level if federal efforts fizzle out.

Nevada, Poker and Gambling

Gambling in Nevada - Capsule History

Perhaps no state is more closely associated with gambling than Nevada, but much of the state's early history with the betting business has been overshadowed by the story of the Vegas strip.  Before the first fabled resorts of Las Vegas were constructed, there was a time when Nevada was a something of a gambling hotspot.  Legal gambling was available across Nevada from the 1870s through 1910, sparking a wave of tourism that in many ways provided the basic template for Nevada's evolution into the gambling epicenter of the world. 

Two decades would pass before Nevada turned back to regulated gambling.  In 1931, the state seized an opportunity generated by the construction (and pending completion) of the Hoover Dam and passed laws effectively legalizing nearly every form of gambling within the state's borders.

Nevada - Regulated Gambling

Nevada is home to over 250 land-based casinos, or roughly one for every 425 square miles in the state.  Charitable gambling is also permitted (and regulated) by the state, along with pari-mutuel wagering.  Nevada is also home to a number of tribal gambling facilities.  The one form of regulated gambling Nevada lacks comes as a bit of a surprise to most - for all the fondness the state has for gambling, it has yet to introduce a state lottery (and has no apparent plans to do so).

Nevada - Is There Regulated Online Gambling?

Yes.  Nevada is one of the few states in the US that currently regulates and licenses active online gambling options.  As of now, sports betting is the only available online gambling option in Nevada, but the state has also made substantial progress on a system for licensing real money poker operators.  Launch of real-money games licensed by the state of Nevada is expected in 2013.

Poker and Gambling News From Nevada

Nearly all of the gambling news coming out of Nevada lately has focused on the state's ongoing efforts to introduce regulated online poker.  Nevada continues to issue licenses to operators, with casino giant MGM[2] among the latest round of approved outfits.  However, the looming cloud cast by legislative uncertainty at the federal level appears to have forced Nevada into something of a holding pattern.  As Gov. Sandoval noted in October 2012[3], the state would vastly prefer a federal solution for online gambling as opposed to a state-by-state solution, so we're unlikely to see Nevada commit wholly to intrastate poker until the federal question is resolved.

Read More About Poker and Gambling in Nevada

Institute for the Study of Gambling & Commercial Gaming[4].  Based out of the University of Nevada, Reno, the ISGCG brings an academic focus to the world of Nevada casino gambling.  Research for those with a casual interest and those looking for in-depth answers is available at the institute's website.

UNLV Center for Gaming Research[5].  The UNLV Center for Gaming Research brings together various pieces of information and crafts a larger picture of the state's gambling industry.  A wealth of free research, reports and other interesting content related to regulated gambling in Nevada.

Nevada Gaming Commission[6].  State resource for regulatory information, minutes of board meetings, schedules - everything having to do with the business of offering heavily regulated gambling activity.

Nevada's Role in Poker History

Nevada doesn't have a place in poker history so much as the state is poker history.  While poker may not have been born in the state, the modern game of poker is very much from Nevada in every meaningful sense of the word.  The state's casinos host the biggest games, the brightest stages and the flat-out largest gathering of live poker players in the world. 
The list of famous poker players who either hail from the state or now call it home would easily exceed the length of this guide and then some.  Safe to say that if you're ever forced to guess the home base of a particular poker player, Nevada is far and away your best bet.

Sources & Citations For This Article on Nevada Online Poker