On Thursday, MGM Resorts International moved one step closer toward offering legalized intrastate online poker in Nevada. In a hearing with the three-member Nevada Gaming Control Board, MGM received preliminary approval to offer real-money online poker as an operator. The gaming giant, which will use bwin.party's poker platform, is expected to launch a free-play online poker site in early 2013.
MGM will seek final license approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission later this month.
"We are encouraged to know that states are talking to one another," MGM CEO Jim Murren told Reuters on Wednesday. "They are crafting their own legislation and legal frameworks but are talking with other states in anticipation of compacting with multiple states.
"We feel strongly that if it is in fact state by state, the states themselves need to compact with one another to create a more viable business model. Any one state going on its own presents an economic challenge, particularly in a small state like Nevada."
Last October, MGM partnered with bwin.party and Boyd Gaming in anticipation of legalized gambling. As part of the joint venture, bwin.party will own 65 percent of the company for providing and maintaining the software for both gaming companies. MGM will hold 25 percent ownership and Boyd will own 10 percent.
Boyd Gaming received its interactive gaming license last month. Bwin.party has submitted license application but has yet to meet with gaming regulators.
"For many years it was a question of if the U.S. government — either at a federal or state level — would regulate online gaming," Bwin.party co-CEO Jim Ryan said in an early-2012 interview with PokerNews. "We don't think that's the case anymore. We think it's a question of when.”
Chris Sieroty, a gaming reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, indicated that bwin.party’s license would be considered after the new year.
*Picture courtesy of msnbcmedia.msn.com.