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Gaming Control Board studying wagering accounts for gambling at slots, table games

Nevada casino customers inched closer Thursday to being able to sign up for and fund a wagering account that could be used to gamble at slot machines, table games and bingo parlors.

The concept of using wagering accounts is already in play for sports betting, mobile wagering and online poker play within the state. Extending the use of an account through a loyalty card is the next iteration of making it more convenient for customers to play without cash.

Members of the state Gaming Control Board conducted a workshop meeting Thursday to discuss amendments to regulations that would enable play through pre-established accounts. While most of the details of the proposal would be embedded in Regulation 5, which addresses the operation of gaming establishments, the Nevada Gaming Commission would have to amend Regulations 5A on interactive gaming, 22 on wagering accounts for races books and sports pools and 26C on wagering accounts for off-track pari-mutuel horse racing to maintain consistency.

Regulators were directed to adopt regulations encouraging manufacturers to develop and deploy gaming devices, equipment and gaming support systems to make it easier for customers to play using new technology when the Nevada Legislature approved Senate Bill 9 in 2015.

Most of the focus on Senate Bill 9 has been on policy changes and encouraging development of skill-based casino games.

“But if you read all the language of Senate Bill 9, it mandates that the Control Board take up regulations that address e-commerce at the machine,” said Marcus Prater, executive director of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, who testified at Thursday’s meeting.

While the establishment of wagering accounts falls short of allowing casino patrons to use debit cards or credit cards in a slot machine — a line regulators and consumer advocates aren’t likely to cross — it does bring a source of funds one step closer to patrons who have become more comfortable using loyalty cards to collect points that can be used for other transactions within a resort.

“It would give patrons what they expect with the ability to fund gaming from sources they are increasingly more comfortable with,” said A.G. Burnett, chairman of the state Gaming Control Board.

But Burnett added that regulators and the industry need a little more time to make sure every angle of the plan is reviewed. He said he expects to have another workshop within two months to consider revisions to the regulations before sending them to the commission for consideration.

Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said the advancements contemplated in the regulations could lead to customers being able to draw from their accounts for other transactions, such as meals and rooms.

“It’s what customers expect in their casino experience,” she said. “You wouldn’t expect to have separate accounts to buy shoes and clothing when you go to a store,” she said. “This is being developed as a convenience to the customer.”

The Control Board received letters of support on the proposed regulations from the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, USFantasy Sports, Sports Book Combine and the National Council on Problem Gambling. They offered a few recommended changes in wording, but no opposition to the proposals.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta

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