Online Gambling: Nevada Becomes First State to Legalize Online Gambling

A crazy day of arm-twisting and legislating was capped off on Thursday when Nevada governor Brian Sandoval signed an emergency measure passed by both Nevada houses, becoming the first state to legalize online gambling in the United States. The powers that be in Nevada, wanting to beat New Jersey as first in the country, rushed through the new law thanks to some rare bipartisanship action by Nevada lawmakers. The bill swept through both the Assembly and Senate on Thursday after a joint hearing before the two judiciary committees.

“This is an historic day for the great state of Nevada,” Sandoval said, surrounded by dozens of state lawmakers. “Today I sign into law the framework that will usher in the next frontier of gaming in Nevada. This bill is critical to our state’s economy and ensures that we will continue to be the gold standard for gaming regulation.”

Nevada Legislators in 2011 passed a bill that put Nevada in position to legalize Internet gambling if the federal government sanctioned it. But when those efforts failed in Congress, Sandoval said Nevada would work toward agreements with other states. This became possible when the Department of Justice issued a ruling in 2011 clarifying that the federal Wire Act of 1961, used to crack down on gambling over the Internet, only applies to sports betting.

The bill is critical to Nevada’s economy because it will enable existing licensed gaming companies to take the lead in making online poker available around the country, potentially giving them a competitive advantage over operators in other states.

Horne said in testimony at the joint committee hearing that online gaming will generate new jobs, $3 million in tax revenue and create an economic output between $10 million and $15 million. The bill also allows Nevada companies to enter compacts with other states that have a player base.

An online gaming license will cost companies $500,000, with the Nevada Gaming Commission having the power to change those fees under certain conditions. The renewal fee has been set at $250,000.

Betting the Oscars: Argo Expected to Take Home Best Picture

A powerful group of films from the major Hollywood studies highlight a solid year for the film industry. Argo, at -465, remains the heavy favorite for the Best Picture. That’s usually the result when a film wins the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Directors Guild Awards, and the Producers Guild Award. Lincoln is the second choice; a $100 bet on the film would net $600 if the Steven Spielberg film is able to pull off the upset. Les Miserables, at 15-1, is the third choice. The Life of Pi (25-1), Zero Dark Thirty (30-1), Silver Linings Playbook (27-1), Django Unchained (36-1), Armour (40-1), and Beasts of the Southern Wild (75-1) all are long shots to bring home the Oscar.

If you are looking for a long shot, look at Silver Linings Playbook. The critically acclaimed movie garnared eight Oscar nominations, and has Harvey Weinstein lurking in the background. Weinstein is the king of the Oscars, knowing how to pick movies that bring home the gold statues. And make money; Silver Linings Playbook has already earned seven times its cost of production.

Lincoln was the front-runner when the nominations were released in November. The Spielberg story of the 16th president bullying the 13th Admentment through a divided Congress received eleven Oscar nominations in addition to the Best Picture. While the initial buzz has subsided, there is still plenty of gas in the take for Lincoln to surprise.

But Argo is the horse to beat in this race. Directed by Ben Affleck, Argo was initially overlooked as an Oscar worthy film. Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln and Les Miserables all got more Oscar hype. But each faltered, and Argo got its surge, winning the Golden Globes and sweeping all the Guild Awards. The failure of Afffleck to receive a nomination for Best Director, usually a must for Best Picture winners, now looks like it might be an advantage to the film. Many observers were dismayed when Affleck was snubbed for Best Director and Best Actor nominations for Argo. To some, the screwing of Affleck can only be rectified by Argo taking down the main prize.