Legal online poker site goes live -- for Nevada residents

The site will allow players to hit the virtual poker tables, as long as they're 21 years of age or older.

Las Vegas: Home to CES and, oh yes, scores of casinos. Sarah Tew/CNET

Nevada has become the first state to allow its residents to legally play poker online for money.

The state on Tuesday announced (PDF) that is now live for its residents. In order to play, participants must be 21 years old and reside in Nevada. For now, the site will offer nightly games with prizes of $1,000, though a higher-stakes game with a $10,000 pool will run on Sundays. Other poker sites are expected to go live eventually.

Nevada is breaking down a barrier in the online world of gambling. In 2006, Congress made Internet-based betting illegal, forcing poker sites to go to other countries to continue to operate. Ultimate Poker has brought back the game to the States. Nevada, which hopes to generate significant tax revenue from the games, will likely be followed by New Jersey and Delaware, which have also legalized online gambling to increase tax revenues.

Ultimate Poker has been given a 30-day license to operate its service. If all goes well, it'll then get a long-term license. Gamers can put their cash into the pot through bank wire or mailed checks. Station Casinos, which owns Ultimate Poker, will also allow players to input cash into their accounts at one of its 16 casinos.

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