New Nevada Online Poker Bill Could Wreak Havoc on Tournament Stakers

January 26th, 2015 | by Jason Reynolds
Nevada online poker bill tournament staking illegal

A Nevada online poker bill filed on behalf of the state’s Gaming Control Board could cause trouble for the poker community, depending on how it is interpreted. (Image: bettingtalk.com)

Nevada online poker could be in for a rude shock if a new proposed State Senate bill passes.

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) and online poker in Nevada may both see changes if the new bill, known as Senate Bill 40 (SB 40), is passed into law.

The measure has been pre-filed on behalf of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and is designed to reduce the risk of money laundering in sports betting circles, but could also result in some dramatic changes to the poker landscape in the state, depending on how some language in the bill is interpreted.

Impact Difficult to Gauge

The bill is a short one, complete on a single page, and would make it illegal for anyone to benefit financially from aiding someone who is offering illegal wagers.

It specifies that it is “unlawful for a person to receive any compensation or reward, or any percentage or share of the money or property played,” for a variety of activities, including “accepting or facilitating a bet or wager on the result of any race, sporting event or future contingent event, without first having procured, and therefore maintaining, all required gaming license.”

This is also extended to anyone who gets compensation for facilitating a bet on behalf of a person who gets such compensation, or transmitting or delivering anything of value on their behalf.

Anyone guilty of such a crime would be committing a category B felony, punishable by up to six years in jail and a fine of as much as $5,000. The measure is designed to fight the prospect of criminals laundering money through sports betting in the state.

However, depending on how these rules were interpreted, the law could mean a variety of things for the world of online and live poker in Nevada.

Could Target Tournament Staking, Affiliate Marketers

In particular, the proposed law could easily be read to impact affiliate marketers for online poker sites: they facilitate wagering on those sites, and typically receive compensation for doing so. On the other hand, they do not actively make the bets for players.

It’s also unclear if this law would require only that the bets take place with an entity licensed to take them, in which case affiliate marketers for sites like WSOP.com would undoubtedly be in the clear, or if the very act of facilitating bets would be illegal in the state.

If that seems complicated, it’s nothing compared to the worries some players have over how such a bill could impact the popular practice of staking players in live poker tournaments, also known as having a “horse”.

Given the vagueness of the language in the bill, there are many ways in which it could be interpreted: it’s possible that backers of a player could be seen as “facilitating” the bets made by that player in a given tournament. But there seems to be no consensus about whether or not these fears are reasonable: the bill doesn’t mention poker in any way, and while the broad strokes of what the proposed law are trying to accomplish seem clear, the details are not.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the bill poses a real danger to poker players, at least not yet.

SB 40 has yet to even be reviewed by a committee, which means that there will still be plenty of opportunities for input on the language included in the legislation. That’s assuming that the bill manages to get voted on and passed, something that’s far from certain at this early stage.

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