Nevada governor, Brian Sandoval

Gambling is top of the agenda as Nevada Governor, Brian Sandoval, makes a business trip to Australia. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Gambling is top of the list for Nevada’s governor, Brian Sandoval, as he arrives in Australia for a two-week trip.

Although Gov. Sandoval’s trade mission includes a focus on mining and water technology, gambling will also be discussed between industry leaders.

Representatives from the University of Nevada in Reno and Cirque du Soleil will also be in attendance. Australia is a huge trade partner for Nevada, with around $149 million (AUD199 million) in business being conducted each year.

As yet, it’s not known what areas of gambling will be discussed. However, some areas of Australia boast pokie numbers not seen anywhere else in the world outside Nevada. New South Wales has one of the highest per-capita pokie machine ratios outside Las Vegas.

Pokie Industry Provides Good US-Australia Links

Away from mere pokie machine numbers, there are already significant gambling ties between Australia and Nevada. In 2012, US gaming giant Bally Technologies struck a partnership deal with Aristocrat over online gambling services in America.

Aussie giant Aristocrat operates thousands of pokies Down Under, and made further in-roads into the lucrative US market in 2014. Then, it completed a buy-out of Video Gaming Technologies. VGT is one of the biggest providers of gaming machines in North America.

Sandoval Keen On Online Poker Deal

Governor Sandoval has overseen a huge revolution in online gaming in the US. Since Nevada introduced totally legal online poker in 2013, some of the biggest Internet firms in the world have sought licenses.

Central to Nevada’s ability to grow its online gambling industry, however, is a tie-up with New Jersey sites. New Jersey also passed its own state laws allowing online poker to be played for real money within state borders.

However, the Garden State also allows its residents to enjoy legalised online casino games like pokies. Residents of Nevada, for now, don’t have that luxury.

In the past few months, Gov. Sandoval has made indications he is keen to strike a player-sharing deal with New Jersey.

“I’m ready to go,” the governor said in May. “It’s a win-win for both states.”

Land-Based Pokie Operators Stronger Than Ever

Closer to home, online gambling has been hit by a review of the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001. The government-led review has led to a stronger clampdown on offshore betting sites.

The review has not led to any relaxation of current laws on online poker or casinos. Powerful land-based pokie operators and lobbyists are now in a stronger position than ever before.

Notably, the IGA review has not led to any reform of land-based gambling Down Under. But a concerted effort by Senators Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie to push for reform could yet be a spanner in the works.

If Gov. Sandoval is keen to tap into Australia’s lucrative bricks n’ mortar pokies business, he couldn’t have picked a better time.

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