New Jersey votes for sports betting bills; Shuffle Master Nevada poker applicant

new-jersey-shuffle-master-nevada-pokerOn Thursday, New Jersey took two steps closer to permitting its residents to bet on sports via Atlantic City casinos and state racetracks, as both legislative houses approved their respective bills. The Assembly approved its legislation by a margin of 54-15, while the Senate voted 34-2 in favor. Amendments to the legislation will delay final approval until Jan. 9, after which Gov. Chris Christie will be asked to autograph the sucker. Only then will the state’s Attorney General be able to mount a proper court challenge of PASPA, the federal prohibition against sports betting outside of Nevada (forgetting, for the moment, the half-assed parlay ‘sports lottery’ versions available in a few other states). Earlier in the week, legislators removed language that would have allowed sports betting online and via mobile devices, although legislators claim this was a temporary measure, done purely to ensure Christie’s approval and proceed with the court challenge.

In Nevada, global gaming supplier Shuffle Master has become the sixth company to apply for one of the state’s newfangled online poker licenses. A source at the Nevada Gaming Control Board told that the Las Vegas-based Shuffle Master has applied to become a service provider, as has Cantor Gaming, with which Shuffle Master entered into a joint licensing agreement in July. The Nevada Gaming Commission is set to discuss the final draft of Nevada’s new poker regulations on Dec. 22. Assuming all goes well, the finished regs could be in place by Feb. 1, 2012, with the first licenses issued shortly thereafter.

Nevada’s regulations specifically bar ‘interstate’ online poker from going forward without the necessary federal approval, but the intrastate option remains. And with the clock running out for the introduction of Sen. Harry Reid’s long-rumored but as yet unseen federal online poker bill, intrastate may be Nevada’s only option for the foreseeable future. Gov. Brian Sandoval had previously expressed his wish that the state would not choose to go down the intrastate route, on the grounds that it might (a) undermine federal efforts to pass nationwide legislation, and/or (b) provoke the Department of Justice into launching a court action to shut Nevada down, but it’s not clear just where Sandoval’s head is at these days. Seems the governor’s revived Gaming Policy Commission will have much to ponder at its next ‘first in a generation’ meeting.