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Nevada regulators to study changes in gaming account sign-ups

The Nevada Gaming Control Board agreed to consider a regulatory amendment that would enable remote verification of casino wagering accounts — but not for sports and pari-mutuel betting.

Following an hourlong workshop meeting Thursday to review a petition submitted by subsidiaries of Las Vegas-based Sightline Payments LLC, board members agreed to place the proposal on a future agenda.

“Nevada has been a leader in cashless gaming, and we look forward to continued discussions that will enable us to provide Nevada residents and visitors to Nevada with the most innovative, safe, secure, compliant and responsible gaming experience in the United States,” Sightline Co-CEO Joe Pappano said in a statement issued after the meeting.

Sightline petitioned the board to make regulatory changes that would allow casinos to verify the identity and fund wagering accounts of players without them having to appear in the casino. Under the proposed change, a player could download an app, sign up for a casino wagering account online, fund the account and begin playing in the casino or make nongaming purchases without having to stand in line for verification.

Casino companies have been on both sides of the remote sign-up debate involving sports betting. Proponents say the ease of signing up would generate more revenue while opponents want to keep the in-person verification because it requires all players to come into the casino at least once, raising the potential for additional gambling.

Board member Phil Katsaros, who conducted the workshop meeting, said the proposal offered by Sightline would encourage more casino patronage because the accounts would be used to fund slot-machine and table-game play as well as retail purchases at the casino.

Pappano said in the meeting that Sightline debuted its cashless wagering system at Boyd Gaming Corp.’s Aliante property and introduced it at the opening of Resorts World Las Vegas in June with customers required to get account verifications in person.

He said research indicates customers have the tolerance to wait three minutes for an account activation. While the process wasn’t a problem at Aliante, he said the crush of people wanting to sign up when Resorts World opened had customers waiting in line for hours before they could gamble from their cashless accounts.

Other states allow off-site sign-ups and verification — particularly for sports wagering accounts — but the Sightline proposal in Nevada does not include remote sign-ups for sports wagering.

Online sports betting companies point to New Jersey’s dominance of the industry as a reason why Nevada should overhaul its rules involving wagering accounts to generate more revenue.

Omer Sattar, co-founder and co-CEO of Sightline, told board members that remote account verification can be made even more secure than by showing a government-issued ID card with knowledge-based authentication, or KBA.

With KBA, customers would be prompted to answer personal security questions, like “What is the name of the street you lived on when you were 16 years old?,” to verify their identity.

Still, there is opposition to the proposed amendment.

Attorney Marc Rubinstein, representing Station Casinos Inc., said Sightline’s proposal could contradict federal anti-money laundering laws.

“Federal anti-money laundering law requires that brick-and-mortar casinos utilize documentary methods of identity verification for on-premises gaming activities,” Rubinstein said in a Tuesday letter to board members.

“Consequently, it would seem that the proposed amendments … are an invitation to approve a regulation change that would contravene federal law,” he wrote. “For this reason, we believe the board should not have been asked to approve the proposed regulation amendments, the workshop should not proceed and the proposed regulation amendments should not be recommended by the board for action.”

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

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