While Nevada regulators may have signed off on the business relationship between state gaming license-holder Caesars Entertainment and the online gambling division of 888 Holdings, they have probably yet to be consulted on the proposed hook-up between Wynn Resorts and PokerStars.
There is one substantial obstacle to the Wynn/PokerStars union that might give US regulators pause. After all, as 888 was keen to point out during its Nevada hearings, it pulled out of the US market post-UIGEA. PokerStars, on the other hand, continues to take US clients to this day. How is any US regulator going to turn a blind eye to this fact?
Leading gambling authority Prof. I. Nelson Rose thinks the answer may lie across the Atlantic. When France was in the process of liberalizing its online gaming market, it initially insisted that all unlicensed operators serving French gamblers would never be granted new French licenses. This demand was then downgraded to compelling these operators to first exit the market before applying for a license (much as US Sen. Harry Reid proposed an 18-month ‘blackout period’ in his late-2010 attempt at passing a federal poker bill). However, when push came to shove, French regulators grew doubtful whether they could convict any of these supposed ‘bad actors’ of anything under their existing laws, so they settled for a general amnesty, and sites like PokerStars.fr were born.
Prof. Rose isn’t suggesting that the US will automatically adopt a French-style solution. But his latest column at GamblingAndTheLaw.com examines this and other scenarios that may decide who gets to play when online gambling becomes the law of the US land.