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First legal online poker site goes live in Nevada

By Ronald Grover

(Reuters) - Already home to the Las Vegas strip with its casinos and high-stakes games, Nevada on Tuesday became the first state where residents can legally play poker online for money.

Station Casinos went live with UltimatePoker.com after Nevada legalized online poker in February. New Jersey and Delaware have legalized online gambling, which could eventually generate billions of dollars in revenue for companies and local governments.

UlimatePoker.com will operate under a 30-day license, said A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, while the site works out "the kinks" before getting a formal license that he said would likely be granted.

"We have others right behind them," said Burnett.

Players compete in nightly games with a prize pool of $1,000 and a pair of $10,000 Sunday games, according to the site, which is operated by Station Casinos' subsidiary, Ultimate Gaming.

Players must be at least 21 years old and residents of Nevada.

"Other states will be watching Nevada closely to see whether it can effectively implement technology solutions that allow gambling businesses licensed there to identify the age, identity and location of their customers," Chris Krafcik, North America research director online gaming analysts Gambling Compliance, said in an email.

Internet betting was banned by Congress in 2006, but tax-hungry states are now relaxing rules.

Players put money into the pot through bank wire, mailed checks or by withdrawing cash at one of 16 Station casinos.

The site will be marketed with Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts competition that is operated by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, brothers who also control Station Casinos.

(Reporting by Ronald Grover in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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