Nevada Online Casinos – Is Online Gambling Legal in NV?
Last Updated: June 19, 2023
If there is one thing Nevada is known for, it’s gambling. Home to Las Vegas, Nevada, it is the largest gambling hub in the United States and one of the biggest in the world. But the question you’ve come here to find an answer to is – are there any licensed online casinos in Nevada?
The answer to that particular question is, somewhat surprisingly, no.
While the state was one of the first to regulate online poker and hosts dozens of brick-and-mortar casinos, Nevada online casinos are still not a reality. On this page, we’ll look into some of the legal and economic backgrounds to explain why this is the case and when we can expect this to change.
Is Online Gambling Legal In Nevada?
As mentioned, Nevada was one of the first states to regulate online gambling. The state passed its interactive gaming law back in 2013, becoming one of the iGaming pioneers in the US. However, this law made provisions only for online poker.
The body in charge of issuing licenses and overseeing the operation of licensed poker sites in the state is the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The Board makes its recommendations to the Commission, which, in turn, gives the final approval if they agree with the recommendation.
But what about online casinos in Nevada? How come they were not included in the interactive gaming law, and why is the state that’s so famous for gambling the only one to only offer poker and not other types of online gambling?
It is exactly because the state’s economy is so reliant on land-based gaming establishments that lawmakers felt that allowing online casinos would not be a prudent decision.
After all, if people can stay at home and play their favorite casino games on their phones and computers, they are less incentivized to visit actual casinos. Brick-and-mortar casinos need to get people in the door to stay afloat, and they need the numbers to grow, not deteriorate.
The companies behind major land-based casinos in Nevada have a major influence on state politics, and they are not keen to see their business move to the virtual realm.
Potential Advantages of Nevada Online Casinos
It’s not hard to understand why the main players in the Nevada gaming industries oppose the regulation of online casinos, but not all agree on this issue. While many are steadfast in their belief that this would be a huge blow to the economy, some think the state is missing out and being left behind.
This view was openly shared by the CEO of MGM Resorts back in 2021. MGM is one of those major industry players, but the company has branched out in other states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, launching online casinos and seeing a lot of success.
He also emphasized that, despite fears, the land-based operators in the regulated states did not suffer any significant traffic loss after online casinos went live.
The nature of the gaming market is changing, and adding an interactive, remote segment seems to be the way to go. However, there is currently no agreement among lawmakers and major stakeholders in Nevada regarding this issue, maintaining somewhat of a stalemate position.
Social Online Casinos in Nevada as the Only Legal Alternative
So, for the time being, what are the options for those wanting to play online casino games in Nevada? The first option is the one that’s always been there, and that’s offshore casinos.
These international sites continue to cater to US players (including Nevada), disregarding state and country laws. While some have a good reputation with the players and even offer solid casino bonuses, we recommend you avoid them at all costs.
These are not legal (despite what they might claim), and their business practices are highly questionable at best, so these are not entities that you want to trust with your money.
The other alternative is much safer and comes in the form of social casinos. These casinos aren’t licensed by individual states, and they don’t necessarily operate within the confines of local laws, but they are also not breaking any.
These operators have found a way to wrap their business around the sweepstakes model, which has been used heavily by many other industries. The gambling sector adopted the model and made it it's own.
The way it works is that players never gamble with actual money. They spend money to buy virtual currency (which can only be used for fun gaming, i.e., no actual prizes are involved). However, for their loyalty, casinos reward them with free special tokens that can be used to play with and exchanged for actual money.
If this sounds like nothing else but a loophole, you’re right on the money. But this loophole works, and it hasn’t been challenged yet, which means that these sweepstakes casinos are your best pick if you’re looking for legal Nevada online casinos.
Will Online Casinos Ever Be Regulated in Las Vegas?
The fear of market cannibalization and the lack of willingness to move away from the familiar and tested path represent the biggest obstacles for online casinos in the states. The casino lobby is very powerful, and, at the moment, they aren’t willing to budge.
Their fears might be somewhat justified when looking at other regulated states (despite the MGM CEO’s claims from 2021), as there is a real danger of a drop in player traffic if gambling was made available online.
And, for Nevada, this danger is simply a much bigger concern than for other states. The Las Vegas economy relies heavily and almost exclusively on brick-and-mortar casinos, so a significant upset could see venues downsize or close down completely, leaving hundreds, if not thousands, without jobs.
These are the bleakest of scenarios, of course, but the politicians aren’t willing to take that risk, and casino owners don’t feel the need to break something that’s been working so well for so long.
There is a flip side to the argument as well, though.
Regulating online casinos in Nevada would help in many important aspects, making it easier for law enforcement agencies to track the flow of money, stop illegal operators, and give people with gambling problems better tools to limit or completely stop their gaming activities.
It would also help deter people from playing at offshore casinos, one of the biggest arguments used for regulating online casinos in other US states.
The real question is that of balance. Would the benefits of NV online casinos outweigh any potential downsides? There is still research to be done on this topic.
The discussion about regulating online casinos in Nevada has been actualized once again recently, but it doesn’t seem like we’ll be seeing any significant movements in the coming months.
At one point or another, the state will simply have to go with the flow and accept the reality of online gambling, but that point could well be a few years down the line still.
Online Poker in Nevada
While online casinos continue to be a hot issue in Nevada, online poker has been thriving for a full decade. Nevada became one of the online poker pioneers in the US, right after Delaware, leading the way by example.
That said, there is only one poker operator currently active in the state, and that’s WSOP.com. While a couple of other platforms tried to find their place in the market over the years, none of them succeeded, leaving WSOP free to operate without any competition.
While Nevada alone isn’t a big market, with just over three million residents, WSOP shares the player pool with Delaware and New Jersey, creating a much bigger platform with significant traffic.
Michigan was the fourth state to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), and since WSOP is active in Michigan as well, it’s likely the operator will soon expand to add the MI players to the fold as well.
There are a couple more likely candidates for Nevada online poker, including BetMGM and potentially Run It Once Poker. The rumors about BetMGM entering Nevada have been circulating for some time now, so it could happen soon.
In the meantime, WSOP will remain the undisputed king of Nevada online poker, building on its robust brand and pristine reputation in its home state.
NV Online Casinos – Is Regulated Gambling Coming Soon?
Despite its long gambling tradition, Nevada remains the only US state with regulated online gaming limited only to online poker. The original bill did not include online casinos, which remains unchanged to this day.
The reason for the lack of NV online casinos is simple – the casino lobby in the state is fearful of market cannibalization and the effects that online gambling could have on brick-and-mortar establishments.
Over the years, the topic has been debated, suggestions were made, and even some powerful players from the lobby advocated for the regulation, but none of this was enough to change things around.
It is likely that online casinos in Nevada will become regulated at some point in the future, but it is hard to say when exactly we can expect this to happen.