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Delaware, Nevada Sign First Multistate Internet Gaming Deal


NPR's business news starts with dealing with long distance.


GREENE: Dealing - we're talking about poker. Poker players in Delaware and Nevada will one day get to sit at the same virtual table. This week, their governors signed the first multi-state Internet gambling law.

NPR's Allison Keyes reports that while some casino I'm not so thrilled, the states see a winning hand.

ALLISON KEYES, BYLINE: The pact sets a framework for the two states to work out regulatory standards for online poker games. Delaware Governor Jack Markell says the pact will help his state's troubled casinos.

GOVERNOR JACK MARKEL: We are hopeful that over time it helps casinos develop, you know, additional relationships with customers.

KEYES: He says the two states will be able to...

MARKEL: Put the money wagered by Nevada and Delaware players into a common pot. Each state will receive a percentage of the rake from each poker hand that's attributable to players in that state.

KEYES: Nevada governor Brian Sandoval says a year after he signed his state's Internet gaming bill into law - this agreement shows a potential for such legislation. He adds that both governors hope it expands to other states, which means more revenue.

GOVERNOR BRIAN SANDOVAL: I have had conversations with New Jersey. We'd love to have New Jersey as a partner as well.

KEYES: New Jersey is the only other state so far to legalize online gambling. But the casino industry is divided over Internet gaming. A group of casinos led by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation is against it.

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson runs the company along with casinos in Nevada and Asia. He's behind the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling and told Bloomberg in December, he'll spend whatever it takes to fight it.

SHELDON ADELSON: I'm morally against it and I think it will kill the entire industry.

KEYES: But Ed Suter, president and CEO of Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Delaware, is hailing the agreement. Competition from casinos in Pennsylvania and Maryland has knocked his casino's net profits down from $4.8 million in 2012 to $13,000 in 2013.

ED SUTER: This will actually make it more attractive for Delaware I-gamers to be able to find games.

KEYES: Suter says Internet gaming will mean more customers in person at casinos.

SUTER: People learn how to play poker on the Internet and they get their courage up and then they come to the bricks and mortar casino.

KEYES: There's no launch date set for the two-state online poker games to go live.

Allison Keyes, NPR News, Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Allison Keyes is an award-winning journalist with almost 20 years of experience in print, radio, and television. She has been reporting for NPR's national desk since October 2005. Her reports can be heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition Sunday.