Nevada’s foray into the online poker world is a terrific example of quality over quantity. While there is only a single poker site active (more or less) in Nevada, it is quite an important one.
After all, the World Series of Poker is known around the globe. The annual tournament series in the summertime remains the premier event of the poker calendar, and its championship bracelets are the most coveted prize in the game. WSOP.com Online, the only true online poker site hosting games in Nevada, offers great action year-round and one of the only opportunities you have to win a bracelet from the comfort of your home.
The ability to play poker remotely is becoming increasingly important as time goes on. If you are wanting to play in the Silver State, you’ve come to the right place. The information below should give you everything you need to get started with online poker in the great state of Nevada.
Legal online poker in NV
Is online poker legal in Nevada?
Yes. In addition to Nevada sports betting, online poker has technically been legal in Nevada since 2011, although it took an additional amendment to push sites to set up shop.
In theory, there is a wide scope of businesses that could offer online poker. However, in practice, the Silver State has struggled to maintain more than one functional network at any given time.
At this point, the only option available to Nevada online poker players is WSOP.com. The online version of the world’s best-known tournament operator has enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the state since 2014. The site should retain this status for the foreseeable future, although there is the potential for some new apps to enter the market down the road.
What Agency Oversees Online Poker in Nevada?
Unsurprisingly, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) and the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) possess oversight for online poker in the state of Nevada. The NGC acts as the licensing agent for the NGCB and makes decisions regarding work permits in the state. The NGCB handles the rest of the oversight duties.
The good news is that these agencies have more experience with gambling oversight than any other regulator in the US. So, you can rest assured that legal poker sites in Nevada are safe and compliant with the rules. If you have any issue with a Nevada poker site, you can always contact these organizations for help.
Are There Legal Poker Sites in Nevada?
Yes. WSOP.com Online has been serving Nevada residents and visitors legally since 2013. At this moment, it is the only poker site option in the state.
WSOP.com does offer an interesting opportunity for players in the Silver State, however. Thanks to Nevada’s membership in the Multistate Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), Nevada poker sites are able to join their player pools with those in other MSIGA states. The two other states that have joined MSIGA so far are Delaware and New Jersey.
Since WSOP operates a New Jersey online poker network, the pooling option is available there. However, WSOP parent Caesars Entertainment also maintains a relationship with 888 Poker. As a result, 888 Poker shares the network in New Jersey with WSOP, so the pools are already mixed. In addition, 888 operates in Delaware, which opens that state’s players to Nevada and New Jersey, too.
The great news about the fact that WSOP.com is the poker site in Nevada is that you can play some of its world-famous events from the comfort of your computer or mobile device. It is possible to become a WSOP bracelet winner in your pajamas and without having to drive to the Amazon Room.
If you prefer another option or a site playable in most states, you can also try Global Poker. Global is a sweepstakes site that operates with a unique dual-currency system. Although it takes a bit of time to get used to the system, the site is able to offer great poker action in many areas that don’t usually offer legal poker.
If you travel often or simply want to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket, a sweepstakes site like Global Poker might be the way to go.
Why Can I Find Other Sites When I Search?
First and foremost, any site that you see available which is not one of the ones above is not recognized as a licensed entity in Nevada. While it is probably an overstatement to call them flatly illegal, they undoubtedly exist in a gray zone outside of the explicit boundaries of the law.
In fact, they exist outside of the entirety of the US legal system. As such, they are not bound to follow the same rules, codes of conduct, or business practice standards required of companies that call the US home.
To be clear, there are many Americans (and Nevadans) that play on these sites every day without incident. In all likelihood, you can expect to do the same. However, if something were to go wrong, you could find yourself at a terrible disadvantage for pursuing a legal remedy.
For one thing, it is quite difficult to gather meaningful information about the sites themselves. Even if they are truthful about their locations, there’s no good way to verify.
Second of all, they may not have any oversight or safeguards against unscrupulous practices. They could steal money, charge fees, or simply refuse to allow you to withdraw, and you would have no way to fight them. Even sites that claim to have regulators may not be any better, because you never know if the regulators have any authority or, frankly, if they are not simply another wing of the site itself.
With legal and regulated options in Nevada, the best thing to do is keep it inside the state. Even in the extremely unlikely event that WSOP.com or Global Poker gets out of line, you have all the usual options available for getting satisfaction on your claims.
Nevada online poker laws
Poker’s home has long existed in the state of Nevada. Various Las Vegas properties, from Binion’s to the Mirage to the Bellagio, have been recognized as the unofficial center of the poker universe. So, the presence of online poker as a legal institution is not terribly surprising.
Thus, when AB258 came along in 2011, it passed unanimously in both houses of the Nevada legislature and received Gov. Brian Sandoval’s signature in short order. Although the term “interactive gaming” was already present in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS), AB258 specifically qualified the term to include “without limitation, Internet poker.”
AB114 experienced the same outcome two years later and amended the applicable section of the NRS to add the element of partnering under MSIGA. Whether this law was the catalyst or it took that long for online poker sites to get their acts together, the first online poker in Nevada launched a few months later in 2013.
Perhaps the most interesting part of online poker’s presence in Nevada law is the concurrent absence of online casinos and lottery. Nevada law permits neither type of gaming to exist, and online casinos are nowhere close to passage.
However, poker’s overall lower probability and higher rarity may be driving its legislative appeal. Nevada is a state that runs on the strength of its land-based casinos, and those casinos maintain a tremendous amount of political power. Since their bread-and-butter is slot machines and table games, it is quite possible that they are concerned about online casinos cannibalizing their profits and are applying pressure to keep the issue off the Assembly’s agenda.
Poker, however, does not offer nearly the same amount of profit potential. So, it is quite possible that poker was able to slip by due to its “small fish” status.
However, it’s also possible that Nevadans just wanted to play cards on their phones.
Can I Play a Home Game in Nevada?
Yes. You can play any home game in Nevada that you like, provided that the host never takes a rake.
According to Nevada state law, games that are considered gambling (do) “not include games played with cards in private homes or residences in which no person makes money for operating the game, except as a player…” There is no qualification beyond this statement in the law, so it does not even appear that there’s any sort of limit on the amount of money you can play.
As long as the “house” is not making a profit aside from winnings in the game itself, it’s all perfectly legal.
List of Live Poker Rooms in Nevada
Of course, there are a host of live poker rooms that you can visit in Nevada. Most of them are clustered in Las Vegas and the Reno area, of course, but there are also a smattering of them in places like Laughlin and Wendover. In all, there are more than 40 different poker rooms for your selection in the state.
Some of these rooms are both opulent and steeped in history. The Holiday Casino in Reno provided the inspiration for Benny Binion to found the World Series of Poker. The Mirage was the first megacasino on the Strip and was the regular location for many of poker’s most revered players for a time. The Bellagio is the current capital of poker and the best place to spot poker pros that you usually see on television. The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino has hosted the WSOP event since 2005.
Other Nevada poker rooms are less prestigious. Some of them only have a couple of tables available. However, Nevada’s roots in westward expansion and the Old West lend an unmistakable charm to almost every option in the state. After all, the state’s nickname (the Silver State) is a reference to its history of miners and prospectors. If you prefer a quieter game away from the glamour and glitz of the Las Vegas Strip, there are plenty of options for you.
Here are all the poker rooms in Nevada:
The History of Nevada Poker
Nevada’s history with gambling in general precedes its statehood. Before its inclusion into the US in 1864, prospectors were known to pause in their hunt for gold in order to play games of chance in the not-yet-Silver-State. Even an 1861 law in the then-territory did very little to slow down the gambling.
So, in 1869, the Nevada legislature passed the first law to allow gambling throughout the state. Due to the Comstock Lode’s discovery ten years prior, the largest town in the new state was Virginia City, which reached a peak population of 25,000 in the 1870s. Needless to say, the mining town was also a major center for gambling in Nevada.
Legal gambling has existed continuously in the state since then, save for a 22-year period between 1909 and 1931 when reformers managed to outlaw it. Even during that period, many citizens and town governments ignored the ban and issued licenses for cardrooms, among other venues. Games like bridge and whist were common in these establishments, particularly in Reno.
Poker was part of the offerings at many large Nevada properties during this time. Even if it was relegated to a suite in the hotel (like the Grand Hotel in Reno), poker players could find games fairly readily.
Poker’s first major move into the limelight occurred in 1972. Benny Binion had founded the World Series of Poker in 1970 after Tom Moore and Vic Vickrey had hosted a similar event in Reno the previous year. However, it wasn’t until Thomas Preston, the flamboyant Texan known as Amarillo Slim, won the title and became a celebrity that poker attained its first bit of public notice.
The World Series of Poker became the calling card for the game. Between its television appearances on ESPN and its large prize for first place, the WSOP was a known commodity even among non-poker players.
However, poker rooms did not become must-haves for most Nevada casinos until 2003. In that year, the aptly-named Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event and $2.5 million prize. Because of his name and the fact that he qualified for the event for a mere $40 (via a satellite), the entire world took notice. Thus, the period known informally as the “poker boom” began.
At the time, Nevada was home to roughly 58 poker rooms and 383 poker tables in play. By the end of 2008, five years later, there were a whopping 115 poker rooms and 915 poker tables available in the Silver State.
The boom came to an abrupt halt after a federal crackdown on the unregulated online poker rooms operating throughout the US. The poker craze began to decline, and has mostly sunk back to pre-boom levels.
Nevada was undeterred, though, and allowed online poker to become legal in 2011. It further expanded the opportunity when it pledged to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement, or MSIGA, in 2013. The first sites launched in the same year.
WSOP.com remains the only active online poker site in Nevada to this day. South Point’s Real Gaming maintains an active license, but does not have any games available and appears to have let its domain expire. Ultimate Poker, the site which was actually first to debut, no longer operates in Nevada.
What Is Expected to Change in Nevada Online Poker?
However, regardless of the ebbs and flows of poker, Nevada will always be a destination for card players. With the possibility of Pennsylvania and Michigan poker sites joining MSIGA, the blossoming of player pools could mean a renewed interest in the game for Nevada. If that happens, a second boom might be ready to pop.