Nevada Gambling Laws & Legal Online Poker
Nevada gambling laws are the most permissive in the United States when it come to live casino gambling in a brick-and-mortar setting, while being among the least permissive when it comes to online gaming. This might seem to be an odd stance at first, but when you consider that Internet gambling is viewed as the most daunting competitor for gambling dollars Las Vegas has ever seen, this stance makes perfect sense. Nevada's lawmakers aren't against online gambling websites on moral grounds, but to protect their sizable, world-famous gaming industry.
The state and local governments of Nevada aren't the only ones allowing special status for the Las Vegas and Reno Casinos. The United States federal government has given Nevada gaming exemptions and special consideration in the past. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1991-1992 made Nevada one of four states in which sports betting on NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB games. The other states are Montana, Oregon, and Delaware, though the state of New Jersey plans to defy the law and become the fifth state.
Nevada's Laws on Real-Money Poker
Nevada is pretty much synonymous with live poker thanks to the global recognition the World Series of Poker generates. But poker played in the state's glittering (and sometimes not-so-glittering) casinos is only one part of the larger poker legality picture in Nevada.
The first fact about poker that should be of interest to those in the state: Nevada law does not appear to allow for any charges against poker players, regardless of whether or not the actual game they're taking part in is actually legal. To put it another way: our reading of Nevada law suggests poker players can't be charged for simply playing in an illegal game. Of course, this article should not be taken as legal advice - it's simply our interpretation of current Nevada law at the time of this article.
Poker is defined as gambling for the purposes of Nevada state law (see Section 453.0153). But unlike states like Nebraska and South Carolina that allow for charges against players taking part in illegal games, Nevada has no laws on the books that explicitly lay out penalties for those who are just players (the same can't be said for those who are in the business of offering illegal gambling).
Players may still be interested in knowing what ways there are to play real-money poker that are affirmatively legal under Nevada law. The big one is also the most obvious: there are dozens of live poker rooms in the state of Nevada, and it's legal to play just about any kind of poker you can think of within. Charitable poker isn't on the menu of approved games in Nevada. As for social gambling - aka your weekly home poker game - the state of Nevada has been kind enough to directly exempt such activity in their definition of "gambling."
Nevada Casino Gambling Regulation
Nevada has two gambling regulation agencies, though these two organizations are so closely tied they are sometimes conflated. These agencies are the Nevada Gaming Commission and the State Gaming Control Board (also known as the Nevada Gaming Control Board). These groups share the same official website, if you wish to know how closely they work together.
The State Gaming Control Board was created by the Nevada legislature in 1955 and it regulates gambling throughout the state. The Nevada Gaming Commission was created by Nevada lawmakers in 1959 to grant licenses, administer regulations, and rule on disciplinary matters. Both groups have board members appointed by the Nevada governor.
Nevada Casino Laws
By my count, Nevada has around 385 casino venues spread throughout the state. Besides Las Vegas, casino operations can be found in just over 50 other Nevada cities and towns. Reno, Hendserson, Laughlin, Wendover/West Wendover, and Carson City each have many 10 or more casinos. Reno has the second-most with 32 different gambling operations in their city. Other cities with one or more casinos are Amargosa Valley, Baker, Battle Mountain, Beatty, Boulder City, Cal Nev Ari, Carlin, Crystal Bay, Dayton, Dyer, Elko, Ely, Eureko, Fallon, Fernley, Gardnerville, Gerlach, Goldfield, Hawthorne, Imlay, Incline Village, Indian Springs, Jackpot, Jean, Lovelock, McDermitt, Mesquite, Minden, Moapa, North Las Vegas, Pahrump, Primm, Searchlight, Silver Springs, Smith, Sparks, Spring Creek, Stateline, Sun Valley, Tonopah, Verdi, Virginia City, Wellington, Wells, Winnemucca, and Yerington.
Las Vegas Casino Laws
Of course, Las Vegas is the centerpiece of Nevada gambling laws. Nevada's politicians allowed legal gambling in their state back in the 1930s, when the Great Depression devastated the American economy and hit states like Nevada especially hard. In order to bring in revenues, Nevadans allowed legalized gambling. Las Vegas was deemed a good location for a resort city, because it was near enough to Los Angeles to draw in gamblers from that rising city, while also being near the borders of Utah and Arizona. These days, 148 legal casino operations take place within the city limits of Las Vegas, making the city America's #1 place for casino gambling and giving it the moniker Sin City. Despite economic downturns, charges of corruption, and attempts to turn Las Vegas into a family vacation spot, the essential character of Las Vegas as a gambler's town remains the same.
Many of the casinos regulated by the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Division are world famous. Names like Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, and Wynn Las Vegas are known far and wide. Casinos like the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and Hilton Las Vegas fight for gamblers, tourists, and high dollar patrons of all stripes. Many of these casino resorts offer excellent room rental rates, while paying top dollar to state performers to draw people into their Las Vegas shows. Singers, comedians, circus performers, animal acts, and stage magicians all put on shows to attract customers to this or that part of the Las Vegas Strip.
Attractions and events like the World Series of Pokers bring in waves of professional and amateur gamblers looking to get on a hot streak, while junkets and tourist rates bring in gaming tourists from every point on the globe. Famous and not-so-famous celebrities also flock to Vegas. Look at Las Vegas news and you'll see stories like "Whitney Houston's Daughter Alleges Underage Gambling" and "Play Blackjack with Nickelback". Meanwhile, the off-the-strip casinos continue to exist in the shadow of their more famous and showy competitors, but often offer the best action in town.
Gambling Laws in Las Vegas
At the heart of it all sits the Gaming Control Board and the Gaming Division, which enforce Nevada gaming laws for these giants of the gaming world. Look hard enough and you'll find just about any game of chance known to man. Classic casino games like Texas hold'em poker, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, keno, video poker, and craps can be had everywhere. Slot machines stretch as far as the eye can see. Sports betting and off-track betting from around the world is omnipresent. The Las Vegas casinos are a gambler's paradise, because the gaming laws allow for virtually any kind of bet to be placed.
Learn About Other State Laws
Is the Lottery Legal in Nevada?
At present, Nevada has a ban on lottery games. The US state known the most for gambling makes lotto gaming illegal. Again, lawmakers and gambling interests want people spending their money in the casinos, not at the convenience store on lottery tickets. In early 2011, legislators tried to include a state lottery bill that would have funded public education, but the bill was voted down. Nevada legal experts and gambling experts suggest the lottery has a long uphill climb and you shouldn't expect to see a state lottery in Nevada any time soon.
Opponents of an official Nevada lottery also point out the Nevada has had a lottery for a long time, just in a roundabout way. This is the Megabucks Lottery found on IGT Megabucks slot machines throughout the state. Megabucks appeared in Las Vegas in 1986 as the first networked or linked progressive jackpot. International Gaming Technology's idea led the way for a wave of progressive jackpots to come, but none invoke the lottery concept more than Megabucks. As late as 2011, the $39.7 jackpot on a Megabucks slot machine at the Excalibur Casino in Las Vegas was the largest ever lottery payout in Nevada.
The point being, with all the other gambling options available under Nevada law, lottery gamblers should be able to find a game they want to bet money on. Anyone wanting to gamble in the state of Nevada should have no trouble finding action.