Nevada is gearing up to become the first US state to legalize and regulate online poker and offer online poker services within its territory even as the issue of regulating the industry is being hotly debated at Congress hearings and statehouses throughout the country.

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On Thursday, the gambling regulator of Nevada will pass rules regarding the application of licenses to offer online poker services within Nevada. Caesars, the owner of the internationally acclaimed World Series of Poker (WSOP), wants to expand the brand online pending legislation.

Nevada has designed new gambling rules so that it can quickly grab a lucrative share of the online poker market if the federal government legalizes the industry. Meanwhile, the new regulations in Nevada will allow its licensed casino operator to provide online gaming services to the people of Nevada. According to Mark Lipparelli, the Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman, these gaming sites will be available by the end of 2012 if the Nevada Gaming Commission Okays the newly framed gaming rules on Thursday. Nevada’s move to regulate its online poker industry is aimed at creating a source of revenue to solve its financial problems.

A number of software companies, Indian tribes, manufacturers of slot machine games, lotteries, foreign gambling companies, and others are just waiting to cash in once the US federal government legalizes the online gaming industry. Many companies have already formed strategic alliances to facilitate their smooth movement into the US online poker market once it is legalized. For instance, MGM Resorts International signed a deal with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc. recently.

Last year, Washington DC became the first jurisdiction within America to legalize online poker within its territory; however, the new law has not yet been implemented simply because it became the source of controversies. The issue is scheduled to be heard next month, and according to DC Lottery Executive Directory Buddy Roogow, online gaming sites will be launched in Washington DC next year if this law is not repealed.

Meanwhile, skeptics have pointed out that the population of Nevada is too low to ensure the success of its online poker industry, if and when the Nevada Gaming Commission votes in favor of the state’s new online gaming rules. Large gaming companies MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp have never ceased to exert pressure on the US federal government to legalize and regulate the industry at the federal level precisely for this reason.

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