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Nevada, Delaware sign deal to allow interstate online gambling

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FILE - This Oct. 4, 2011 file photo shows an online poker player playing a game during industry's G2E conference in Las Vegas.AP

The governors of Nevada and Delaware are going all in for online gambling, agreeing to let residents in those states play against each other at virtual poker tables. 

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell announced the first-in-the-nation deal on Tuesday. It creates a framework for regulating interstate gambling, and would eventually allow residents of both states to play poker against each other online. 

While Nevada is only allowing its residents to play online poker so far, the agreement offers the possibility of additional games. It also could allow for additional states to sign up as members of a multi-state Internet gaming association. 

Sandoval hailed the signing of the agreement as historic, saying the states are entering a “new frontier of gaming.”

“The possibilities that are ahead of us are truly extraordinary,” Sandoval said in a statement. “The agreement we’ve signed today provides the tools and the structure necessary for us to pioneer this expanding industry together, as states and as partners.”

The agreement sets minimum regulatory standards that all states involved must agree to, but also gives states the freedom to regulate some aspects of online gambling as they see fit and according to their own laws. For example, states would have the freedom to determine what types of online games they would allow and who could control who offers them.

The agreement will be overseen by an association formed as a Delaware limited liability company, with a governing board of one representative from each state. As initial members, Nevada and Delaware both would have to consent to any amendments or admission of additional states. If another state joins, such changes would require a two-thirds vote of member states. 

“Gov. Sandoval and I both share the goal of ensuring that our states’ gaming industries are as competitive as they can be, while ensuring that games are conducted fairly, honestly, and securely,” Markell said. 

Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey have all legalized online gambling in the past few years, and several other states are considering doing so. 

Sandoval, a Republican, said New Jersey officials have expressed some interest in the multi-state agreement but are waiting to see how it works out for Delaware and Nevada.

The push towards legalization started after the Department of Justice issued a letter in 2011 stating that the federal Wire Act of 1961, often used to crack down on gambling over the Internet, only applies to sports betting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.