Nevada Signs Web Gambling Law

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn has signed off on a law that allows Internet gambling casinos even though the Justice Department says the practice is illegal.

Guinn signed AB466 Thursday.

State officials say court challenges elsewhere could change the federal government’s position and they don’t intend to defy federal law. Casino executives think there is a huge untapped market for Internet gambling.

Experts estimate that revenues from Internet gambling _ largely conducted by offshore companies because of the U.S. ban _ reached $1.5 billion last year and could reach $6 billion by 2003.

At least three Las Vegas gaming companies _ Park Place Entertainment, MGM Mirage and Harrah’s Entertainment _ have invested in technology firms developing equipment for Internet games and all three have Internet sites offering non-cash casino games and prizes.

To ensure Nevada’s expansion into Internet gambling moves ahead smoothly, the state Gaming Control Board and state Gaming Commission must first draft and adopt rules governing such gambling.

Those requirements would include assurances that minors won’t be able to play. Also the games couldn’t be conducted from states that prohibit gambling.

Hotel-casinos with unrestricted gambling licenses could apply to conduct Internet gambling, posting a $500,000 fee when applying for a two-year license.

A manufacturer of an interactive gambling device would pay a $250,000 license fee; a $100,000 fee would be assessed against a manufacturer of equipment associated with a gambling device; and a $50,000 fee would be charged for a license of a manufacturer of peripheral equipment.

Casinos would pay a 6 percent tax on the gross win from the Internet.