CARSON CITY — A bill that could make Nevada the first state to offer legal Internet gambling was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Kenny Guinn.
“Nevada is at the forefront of legalized gaming in the United States, largely due to our regulatory agencies, which serve as a model for gaming regulation everywhere,” Guinn said. “With this bill, we will be prepared to continue to serve as leader in all areas of legalized gaming.”
Guinn signed Assembly Bill 466 that directs the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission to study Internet gaming systems, determine if they can exclude gambling by minors and then pass appropriate regulations. The first Internet casinos are not expected to be licensed for 18 months.
In all, the governor signed 13 bills on Thursday, including measures to set up a statewide work card system for gaming industry employees and a bill to protect homeowners from unscrupulous swimming pool manufacturers.
Guinn has signed 593 bills approved by the 2001 Legislature. He has 10 bills remaining to sign or veto, besides the 26 bills considered during Thursday’s special legislative session.
During hearings, Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander testified that Internet gaming is illegal in the eyes of the federal government and he would not license it without approval of the Justice Department.
But Anthony Cabot, a top gaming industry lawyer, said a federal court decision in Louisiana legalizes Internet gaming.
Casinos that win approval to offer the service will pay a licensing fee of $500,000 and an annual renewal fee of $250,000. They also must pay a 6.25 percent gaming tax on their Internet winnings.
The bill initially was introduced by Assemblywoman Merle Berman, R-Las Vegas, but went through many changes before being placed in another bill. Berman said Nevada led the nation in legalizing gambling in 1931 and also should take the lead in Internet gaming.
Berman maintained Internet gaming may become a lucrative source of tax revenue for Nevada.
Internet gambling industry revenue is Judi Mpo Slot expected to grow from $1.5 billion in 2000 to $6 billion by 2003, according to the New York investment banking firm Bear, Stearns & Co. More than 800 offshore Internet gambling sites exist, most of which are developed by about a dozen software companies.
Other portions of AB466 set up a statewide gaming work card system. Employees would pay as much as $74 for a work card that would be good for five years and could be used in all parts of the state. Las Vegas gaming employees now pay $35 for work cards, but they cannot be transferred to other cities. To receive the work card, employees must pass FBI and statewide criminal repository background checks, in addition to local police checks.
Other bills signed by Guinn included:
- Senate Bill 216, which protects people from swimming pool contractors who do not complete their pools as promised. The bill was introduced by Sens. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, and Bill O’Donnell, R-Las Vegas, in response to a contractor in Clark County who provided financing for pools and then failed to complete them. When homeowners refused to pay for the unfinished pools, he sought to foreclose on their property.
- Senate Bill 584, which allows the state to issue $196 million in bonds for construction of state and university system buildings.
- Senate Bill 586, which authorizes state agencies to receive and spend state and federal funds.