As we discussed earlier this week, PokerStars is going all out in its effort to open up the U.S. online poker market. The world’s most trafficked online poker site is backing legislation to regulate online gambling in Nevada, and now it’s announced a strategic partnership with land-based casino heavyhitter Wynn.

The goal of that “strategic alliance” will be “to try to legalize and run an Internet poker business in the United States,” reports the Associated Press.

“Billionaire CEO Steve Wynn said in a statement late Thursday that law enforcement doesn’t have the tools to stop Internet gambling,” the report continues. “He says lawmakers should legalize and regulate the activity to create thousands of jobs and tax revenue for the United States.”

Nevada events moving fast
Just moments before Wynn announced his support, Nevada lawmakers adopted the PokerStars-backed bill that would legalize online poker in the state.

And that legislation got some key local support from Vegas casino-owner and industry leader Michael Gaughan.

“Gaughan broke ranks from others on the Strip and became the first well-known Nevada gaming executive to voice his support for passage of Assembly Bill 258, which would allow the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt regulations for Internet poker,” writes Howard Stutz at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“There is no doubt in my mind that online poker and other games are coming,” Gaughan said in a statement. “AB 258 would make us a pioneer in the nationwide movement and the leader for the rest of the country to emulate.”

Gaughan is supporting the bill on economic grounds, saying it could help Nevada’s budget problems and help reduce unemployment. He also speculated that online poker could bring in more than $500 million annually to state coffers.

Opposition on the move, too
Caesars Entertainment, who’s opposing the PokerStars-backed online gambling bill in favor of federal legislation, is also moving aggressively towards its own favored online gambling model.

Also on Thursday, gambling regulators in Nevada approved a deal that would let Caesars run branded online gambling sites in the UK, in conjunction with UK online gaming company 888.

“Approval of the licensing is considered by many to be a major step for online gaming because it enabled industry regulators to formally acknowledge the ability of the government to oversee Internet casino play,” writes Richard N. Velotta at the Las Vegas Sun.

“It’s absolutely laying the groundwork for when bricks and mortar casinos are able to do what they’re not able to do yet,” said Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor, per MSNBC.

Key hires for PokerStars too
In related news, PokerStars also announced two new executive appointments this week.

Guy Templer, former Chief Operating Officer of Netplay TV, will be the new Corporate Business Development Director for the company. And Lee Jones, PokerStars’ own former Poker Room Manager, has re-joined the company as Head of Home Games.

“Jones is one of the most popular and recognisable figures in online poker,” company reps announced in a news release. “In four years as Poker Room Manager for PokerStars, he became well known and respected among the site’s many thousands of players. He then transferred to the live poker arena and worked for the European Poker Tour, one of the world’s most prestigious series of live poker events.”

ABC News has a great recap of Nevada’s ongoing online gambling battle. Check it out here.

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