Nevada Regulators Investigation

(By Jeff Simpson, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News) CARSON CITY, Nev.–Nevada gaming regulators are investigating the relationship between an Internet betting site and a September poker tournament scheduled at downtown’s Four Queens.

Advertisements in national poker magazines circulated in Nevada card rooms say the online poker site, ultimatebet.com, is charging customers $15 or $30 apiece to compete in small, Internet card tournaments.

Winners of the events receive buy-ins to the 4 Queens Poker Classic, a tournament slated for Sept. 5-23 at the downtown casino.

Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said he’s troubled that a Nevada casino has ties to a Web betting site, especially at a time when state law prohibits people from online betting within Nevada’s borders.

“I’m concerned about the link,” Neilander said after reading an advertisement for the tournaments in the Aug. 10 edition of Poker Digest magazine.

The ad reads: “4 Queens Poker Classic. $15 and $30 Online Satellites. Going now! UltimateBet’s limit Hold’em satellite tournaments guarantee up to $12,000 in prizes: $5,000 or $1,000 in Poker Classic buy-in, up to $500 in travel expenses, five nights hotel accommodations.”

The control board has tried to ensure that Nevada-licensed casinos aren’t involved with Web gambling sites that take bets from players in the United States, he noted.

“It’s troubling,” Neilander said, “because the Four Queens is a licensee.”

Cory Aronovitz, a Chicago lawyer representing UltimateBet, denied there is any link between the Web site and the Las Vegas casino. Aronovitz declined to name the investors in the Web site, which is regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Quebec.

“There is no affiliation between UltimateBet and the Four Queens,” Aronovitz said.

The U.S. Justice Department has considered online betting to be illegal from within U.S. borders because of a 40-year-old federal law prohibiting sports betting over the phone lines.

Earlier this year, the Nevada Legislature authorized state gaming regulators to determine whether Internet betting could be legal from within Nevada’s borders.

Despite government prohibitions against the practice, online betting is expected to generate nearly $2 billion in revenue this year, with the majority of the wagers placed from inside the United States.

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