Mobile gambling devices could be used in hotel rooms if legislation passes


CARSON CITY -- Nevada visitors who don't have the energy to throw dice, flip cards or push chips in the casino could choose to gamble from their hotel room if a bill in the Legislature becomes law.

Assembly Bill 294 would allow Nevada resorts to expand the reach of mobile gambling devices to go beyond public areas in casinos and into hotel rooms on the premises.

The bill by Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, is an attempt to help casinos remain in touch with younger customers accustomed to using technology to get service wherever and whenever they like.

It was one of two gambling bills heard Tuesday by the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. The other, Assembly Bill 279, would authorize privately owned testing labs to inspect and certify gambling devices and equipment. The committee didn't vote on the bills.

Proponents of both bills said Nevada would be wise to keep pace with gambling technology and modern consumer demand if it wants to maintain its role as a leading jurisdiction in the industry.

Mobile gambling devices that allow casino customers to play games at bars, restaurants, lounges and other common areas in Nevada casinos are already in use in places the Palazzo, The Venetian, the Hard Rock Hotel, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and M Resort, Cantor Gaming CEO Lee Amatis told the committee.

The Horne bill would merely allow device providers such as Cantor to alter the range of the machines so they would also work in hotel rooms.

"A No. 1 location in which patrons want to use the mobile gaming device is in their guest room," Amatis said.

Although no one testified in opposition to the bill, Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli said it would be challenging for regulators to enforce laws against underage gambling if it were conducted from a hotel room.

"A central part of enforcement method is walking around, having agents in these locations," Lipparelli said.

Like the mobile gambling bill, AB279 by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, would also likely contribute to the expansion of technology in casinos.

The bill would essentially lift restrictions that limit the certification of gambling machines to state-run laboratories.

Under Ohrenschall's bill, technology companies would be able to test and certify devices on their own, with oversight from state regulators.

Heidi Gansert, chief of staff to Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, himself a former gaming commission chairman, testified in support of the bill.

"Access to individual testing labs as part of the licensing process will encourage and support innovation," Gansert said. "We expect innovation of gaming devices will play a role in our state's economic recovery."

Lipparelli said game makers in Nevada already have testing labs they use to certify games they make and ship to other jurisdictions. Allowing them to test and certify games for use in Nevada would enable them to develop more uniform standards and encourage them to remain or expand in the state.

"They can have a single set of code that envelops the Nevada market," he said.

It would also speed up the deployment of new games that can become backlogged a the state run labs, Amatis said.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.

 

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