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Nevada to permit sports gambling on the Web

As early as next week, residents will be able to gamble on sporting events from their home computers under a deal approved by the state's Gaming Control Board.

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Nevada residents will be able to gamble from their home computers under a deal that won approval from the state's Gaming Control Board.

Virtgame.com, a company that offers an online gambling system, was given the official go-ahead Thursday to allow residents to wager online on football games, horse races and other sporting events, the company said.

Nevada residents will be able to begin betting on the Internet as early as next week.

Online gambling, though poised for huge growth given the continued rise of Internet users, has been a complicated issue. The New York Supreme Court ruled in July 1999 that online gambling is illegal within the state's borders, a ruling that analysts at the time said would have the power to set a precedent for similar cases.

Virtgame got approval after proving to the commission that its software would prevent any bets being placed from beyond state boundaries. Per Nevada law regulating gambling licenses, Virtgame is building the online gambling site for Coast Resorts, which operates several casinos in the state, said Bruce Merati, Virtgame's chief operating officer.

"Our goal is to provide legalized gaming (online)...including horse racing, lottery or any kind of game of chance that people can play," he said. "The key (in this approval) is that all the states are looking at Nevada Gaming Board as the forefront for legal gaming online. For example, if New Jersey knows that Nevada approved this, then they know it can work."

The San Diego-based company said it has developed a technology called eBorder Control that ensures wagers done over the Internet meet specified legal restrictions for a particular state and can be used to provide geographically specific content to online betters.

To log on to the Coast Resorts Web site, Nevada residents must physically go to a Coast Resort-owned casino and go through a similar procedure as if they were interested in phone wagering, such as showing proof of age and proof of residency.

On top of that, Merati said online betters will receive a proprietary dial-up connection and floppy disk to launch the system on their home computers. In the future, people will be able to download the program on the Internet. The Web-based system being built for Coast Resorts makes sure the dial-up access cannot be forwarded from any other location, further ensuring that bets are being placed only within the state, Merati added.

Virtgame, which also operates online gaming sites for fun and noncash prizes, offers its software and gaming applications either via a traditional software licensing agreement or on a per-user, per-month basis.