The Nevada Gaming Commission gave Las Vegas-based Bally Technologies the first internet gaming license in United States history on Thursday. IGT, based in Reno, received the second license.
Online poker will return to Nevada - but not overnight.
"I think we're probably months away as opposed to years away," said Mark Lerner, general council for Bally Technologies.
The approval means Bally can now develop online poker games, but those games, and all casinos who want to operate online games, must first be approved by the commission.
"We have a ways to go yet. Operators have to get licensed, products have to be approved, submitted and approved," said Lerner.
At the beginning of June, Bally teamed up with the Golden Nugget to release an online poker game that, for now, is free.
"We can transition that play for free site for the opportunity to play for money," said Golden Nugget's Vice President of Marketing Amy Chasey.
Bally tells FOX5 that the pay site could be online by the end of 2012, or early 2013.
Casual poker players like Terry West, who have only been able to play live games since internet poker's "Black Friday" of 2011 are eager for the approval.
"A small-time guy who doesn't want to invest a lot of money," said West. "He can play a little bit of money and win big."
By federal law, the online poker games approved in Nevada would only be able to be played within Nevada's borders. Only an act of Congress could approve online gaming to cross state lines.
Other types of gaming will be considered in the future, but there's no fear this could slow down casino business by eliminating a need to come to casino properties.
"We don't think it'll hurt business at all in Las Vegas," said Chasey. "It's just gonna add to awareness, and gaming, and poker."
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