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Skill-based slot machines still far from reaching casino floors

After more than two-and-a-half hours of discussion of regulations for skill-based slot machines, Nevada is no closer to seeing the potential industry-changing games on casino floors than when the hearing began Thursday afternoon.

The Gaming Control Board oversaw its second workshop in Carson City concerning regulations to accommodate technology approved by the Legislature this year.

There were clear differences in the proposed regulations and language offered by Senate Bill 9 sponsor Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers and the Control Board. The were also suggestions made by several slot machine manufacturers and technology providers on the different proposals.

Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said he hopes the differences will be ironed out before the agency’s September meeting, when he hopes to take action on the regulation changes. Once the Control Board recommends a regulation, the matter must by approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

SB9 called for the Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt rules approving skill-based and arcade-like features. Slot machines in the United States are now based on chance. Regulators and gaming industry insiders hope to have the games on casino floors by the end of the year. Many slot machine manufacturers plan to display skill-based slot machine products at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas at the end of September.

The regulation changes would allow addition of arcade-style video components to traditional slot machines. The association’s suggested regulations define a game of skill, a game of chance and a hybrid game that incorporates both elements.

Reno-based gaming attorney Dan Reaser of Fennemore Craig, representing the association, and Senior Deputy Attorney General Michael Somps, presented similar changes to Regulation 14, which governs the new slot machines. The regulation was first introduced in June.

However, the language differed in various areas. The association wants to include unique elements to the machines, such as social networking and electronic commerce transactions. Reaser said the regulations should allow players the same technology capabilities for electronic commerce offered through mobile sports wagering and interactive gaming.

Regulators want the slot machines to include descriptions of the various skill-based elements so that players understand rules and how to earn bonus points or jackpots.

Designers also weighed in, however, saying the rules for skill-based games may be too cumbersome.

Steven Riesenberger of Las Vegas-based Nano Tech Gaming told the Control Board some skill-based arcade games have “hundreds of pages” of strategy guides. Many of the skill elements and secrets of the game are learned by players through frequent play.

“The gambling language and the skill-based language needs to be separated,” Riesenberger told the Control Board.

Burnett has said skill-based slot machines could reinvigorate Nevada’s slot machine floors. Other casino states are also looking at adopting similar skill-based slot machine technology. In February, New Jersey adopted regulations allowing skill-based gaming.

He said at the meeting’s outset that many of the new slot machine products will lead to a “loosening” of the regulatory practice of approving or disapproving game themes. He said it would be up to the manufacturers to place “offensive games or themes” into casinos and it would be up to casino operators to make sure guests under age 21 are not playing the slot machines.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Find @howardstutz on Twitter.

 

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