Tuesday was a big day for poker fans. Online games are back, and the first virtual cards have been dealt.
In 2011, the Nevada Legislature passed online regulations, and more than 20 companies have been licensed. Ultimate Poker was the first one to get up and running.
Previously, the online sites were unregulated and were banned by Congress in 2011. Now, Nevada is the first state to have online poker, completely regulated.
"It's a really big deal because it marks the return of trust to the online gaming environment," said Tobin Prior with Ultimate Gaming, which developed Ultimate Poker.
Prior said people can now play without fear of being scammed.
"There are 50 million people in America who love playing poker, and the only options they've had are unregulated sites or offshore, where their funds haven't been protected, where their children haven't been protected, where their data hasn't been protected. Today, all that changes," Prior said.
Nevada law says players must be 21 and in Nevada while playing. Ultimate Gaming designed technology to make sure that's the case. The company is co-owned by Station Casinos and the UFC.
It's expected online poker will boost the local economy.
"States need revenue, and this is going to be a source of tax revenue. It's also going to be a job creator. We're hiring people each and every day here in Las Vegas," said Ultimate Gaming's Tom Breitling.
Players can buy in online or may put money in and withdraw from accounts at any Station Casinos property.
Gaming expert David Schwarts said the online aspect could actually boost poker revenues at properties.
"In the 2000s, when online poker first took off, we saw visits to poker rooms increase. So it actually helped the live poker rooms. We may see the same effect now," he said.
Nevada is so far the only state to pass regulated online gaming. New Jersey and Delaware are reportedly close to following suit. Congress could pass legislation to legalize it nationwide.
Currently, Ultimate Poker is only available on a PC.
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