The University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) has undertaken the task of analyzing the frequency that Nevada residents gamble online and how the majority of the residents feel about it. The study was commissioned by the state’s Gaming Control Board, and the results have been requested to be released in the next few weeks.
The purpose of the UNLV study is to take a predominantly statistical look at the pros and cons of online gambling so Nevada legislators can be better informed. Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander told the Las Vegas Sun, “This will be valuable information for policymakers.”
Last year’s passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) brought online gambling to the forefront of many discussions on the national as well as statewide levels. While Nevada politicians should be well-informed about online gaming in order to participate in the ongoing debates on Capitol Hill, there are issues within their own borders that may need to be addressed. The more information with which Nevada policymakers are armed, the better the chances of positive steps being taken toward legalized and regulated online gambling.
There is some confusion about the legality of online gambling within the Nevada borders because federal law does seem to allow it but the Justice Department maintains that it is illegal per the Wire Act. In 2003, the Nevada legislature allowed a study to determine whether such gaming on the internet could be regulated, but the technology was not readily available or feasible at the time – at least not to the satisfaction of state lawmakers. Combining that with the uncertainty about the federal government’s position on the issue, nothing was pursued.
However, technology has vastly improved in the area of online gambling in the past few years, and online gambling and software companies have recently been asking Nevada to consider the benefits that could be incurred as a result of online gambling’s legalization within its borders. Of course, drawing more business owners and residents to the state would be a benefit, but more importantly, there is a great deal of revenue to be made that could help improve the state’s education, infrastructure, and other vital areas that might require attention.
The UNLV study will not only be important for Nevada lawmakers but to politicians and interested parties from other states, along with everyone involved in the current discussions surrounding the UIGEA, the WTO dispute involving Antigua and the U.S., and the four pieces of legislation pending in Congress pertaining to online gaming. With results due before the end of 2007, the information could prove very useful to Nevada and the entire country in 2008.