LAS VEGAS -- Nevada’s newly christened Internet gaming agreement with Delaware could launch this summer, and Gov. Brian Sandoval said he hopes to add more states to the compact.
Sandoval said “it’s no secret” that he has spoken with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie about the Garden State entering into the Multi-State Internet Wager Agreement he signed last month with Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. New Jersey is currently the only other state with legal online wagering.
At least 10 other states, according to a study by GamblingCompliance.com, are considering legalizing forms of Internet gaming. While he can’t affect change in other states, Sandoval told a meeting of reporters and editors of the Review-Journal Thursday he has had informal discussions about Internet wagering with other governors.
“If there are states that don’t have as sophisticated a regulatory structure as we have, that’s something we can offer,” Sandoval said. “If your state doesn’t have the infrastructure, use our capabilities.”
Sandoval expressed similar hopes Friday morning during a welcome address to the iGaming North America meeting at Planet Hollywood.
Nevada’s legal Internet wagering activity is nearly a year old and the state currently has three online poker-only websites accepting wagers from gamblers located within the state’s borders.
Adding Delaware into the mix could grow the market, although not in great numbers.
For that reason, Sandoval hopes to attract other states into the Nevada-Delaware agreement.
“I think it’s important for them to know that we’re capable of doing this,” Sandoval said. “I trust the regulatory process we have. We vetted this with Delaware for several months and we’re currently building the platform.”
Sandoval also said he doesn’t support moving Internet gaming in Nevada beyond poker.
“I think poker-only works well because Nevada is not like other states,” Sandoval said. “We have restricted gaming and neighborhood casinos. Poker works well with what we hope to accomplish.”
This week, a Utah congressman said he plans to introduce a bill that would restore a pre-2011 federal ban on gambling over the Internet. It would join a similar bill to be sponsored in the Senate by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Sandoval said he hasn’t looked at the bill but doesn’t think it could shut down existing online gaming networks.
“I would question whether federal law could come in and supersede our state’s laws,” he said.
The bill is reportedly backed by Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson, who has said he will spend millions to outlaw Internet gaming.
Sandoval said he has spoken to Adelson and Las Vegas Sands representatives. While he respects the opinion of the billionaire, currently the world’s eighth-richest person, the governor will continue his efforts to expand the state’s Internet gaming market.
“I’ve been very transparent with the Sands organization,” Sandoval said. “My position is the law of Nevada is the law. It gives us the ability to do what we’ve done with Delaware.”
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