LAS VEGAS (AP) — Poker devotees will soon be able to skip the smoky casino and legally gamble their dollars away on the couch — at least in the state of Nevada.
A Las Vegas-based social gambling company was expected to launch the first legal, real-money poker website in the United States this morning.
The site, run by Ultimate Gaming, will accept wagers only from players in Nevada for now, but likely represents the shape of things to come for gamblers across the country.
Internet poker, never fully legal, has been strictly outlawed since 2011, when the Department of Justice seized the domain names of the largest offshore sites catering to U.S. customers and blacked them out.
This crackdown, dubbed “black Friday,” left poker fanatics with two options: They could either get dressed and visit a card room, or break the law and log into an offshore site.
More recently, the federal government softened its stance on Internet betting, and three states — New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada — have legalized some form of online wagering within their borders.
With today’s launch, Nevada wins the race to bring Texas Hold ‘em back to the Internet.
“There was black Friday, and now we’re going to have ‘trusting Tuesday,’” said Ultimate Gaming CEO Tobin Prior. “Players won’t have to worry if their money is safe. They are going to be able to play with people they can trust and know the highest regulatory standards have been applied.”
Players will have to endure a lengthy account setup process involving a Social Security number and a Nevada address. Only those older than 21 will be allowed to play.
Several cash-hungry states are weighing legislation that would allow them to tap into what is expected to be a multibillion-dollar market.
Some bills would legalize only poker, as Nevada has, while others would throw open the gates to all casino games, including slots, as New Jersey and Delaware have done.