The University of Nevada, Las Vegas is trying to quantify how many Nevadans gamble online and measure gamblers' attitudes toward legalizing Internet gambling, regulators said.
The study, commissioned by the state Gaming Control Board, is expected to be released within weeks and is intended to inform lawmakers about the pros and cons of regulating a business that the
U.S. government has declared to be mostly illegal.
"This will be valuable information for policymakers," said board chairman Dennis Neilander.
The Nevada Legislature in 2003 allowed regulators to study whether Internet gambling could be regulated.
Las Vegas gaming attorney Tony Cabot, who has consulted for Internet operators, said the UNLV study may show there are enough
gambling dollars going to offshore sites to warrant efforts by the state to tap that revenue.
Besides, he said, state regulation is appropriate.
"It's historically been the policy of the state of Nevada to regulate
gaming so that we can protect patrons and make sure they get paid
when they win," he said.
The government says almost all forms of Internet gambling are illegal.
The Wire Act from the 1960s was enacted to stop bookies from taking bets over the phone but some say it only makes it illegal to place online sports bets.
An act passed last year, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, bars financial institutions from handling Internet gambling transactions, with exceptions for lotteries and horse racing.