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Gaming president says online poker may face federal challenges

Reported by: Sergio Avila
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Updated: 2/21/2013 11:45 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- While Nevada is leading the country when it comes to online poker, one of the industry's most respected lobbyists says Nevada could be headed for a showdown with the feds.

News 3's Sergio Avila talls us that a state bill backed by Governor Brian Sandoval could lead to a federal challenge. News 3 spoke to the American Gaming Association's President Frank Fahrenkopf about this.

Fahrenkopf has been in the online gaming industry for nearly 20 years. He says this move by the governor is the strongest card Nevada has.

It's no secret the only way real money online poker works is if there are enough players logging on. Nevada is just too small.

Gov. Sandoval is trying to add more customers by pushing a state bill that would allow him to enter into agreements with other states.

Fahrenkopf supports the idea but says it could cause trouble in Washington.

“When you start talking about something as controversial as gaming is. I could see there very well might be challenges from people in congress to say all right we are not going to automatically allow these interstate compacts to go forward.” Fahrenkopf said.

Part of the constitution forbids states from entering into compacts without federal approval.

That could pit Nevada against the federal government.

It's part of the reason Fahrenkopf has been working to get a federal online poker bill back on the table.

"Once it starts crossing state lines we think the federal presence is necessary," Fahrenkopf said.

The AGA president says he's gaining steam on Capitol Hill. He's expecting a new federal online poker bill will be introduced sometime this year.

"I'm starting to get some attention from people who didn't listen to me in the congress in the last session," Fahrenkopf said.

Meanwhile game manufacturers continue to work on their products. Like many others, Aristocrat Technologies offers free casino games online.

Jeff Connors with Aristocrat says they already have to look beyond just poker because they don't want to fold a winning hand.

“If you ignore the space like Blockbuster or other companies that have ignored the Internet space. Others will take that space over,” Connors said.

This Internet space could be headed toward a legal battle. Although fahrenkopf says that might not be a bad thing because it will put pressure on Washington to make its final play.

Farhenkopf also told News 3 that federal legislation would be much better than having a patchwork of state regulations.

He says leaving it up to the state's alone could hurt the integrity of the industry if they encountered any problems.

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