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William Hill considering options after sports betting kiosk ban

William Hill U.S., which operates 84 sports betting kiosks statewide, was evaluating its options Friday after the Nevada Assembly’s 41-0 vote to ban betting kiosks in bars, taverns and other establishments holding a restricted gaming license.

The vote Thursday in the Assembly was after Senate Bill 416 passed 18-3 last week in the state Senate. The updated gaming regulation will go into effect on July 1, if Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval signs the veto-proof bill as analysts expect.

“We will review the bill when we receive it,” Mary Sarah Kinner, a spokeswoman for Gov. Sandoval, said in an email Friday.

William Hill and Cantor Gaming both offer sports betting kiosks to Nevada bars and taverns. The Nevada Resort Association’s position has been sports betting kiosks blurred the line between nonrestricted gaming, such as hotel-casinos, and restricted locations such as bars and taverns that are limited to 15 slot machines.

Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said it was never the intent of the gaming regulations to allow restricted locations to offer sports betting. She said sports books have always been limited to nonrestricted locations.

Cantor Gaming, a Las Vegas-based division of the financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald L.P., declined to comment. William Hill issued a statement Friday expressing its disappointment with the Assembly’s vote to approve the measure.

“We are disappointed that the Nevada legislature has passed this bill,” the Las Vegas-based subsidiary of William Hill PLC said in a statement. “As technology continues to move forward, Nevada is now taking a major step backward.”

William Hill said the Nevada Gaming Control Board determined that “these kiosks complied with the regulations and approved the installation of each of them.”

“We invested considerable amounts of money and resources in reliance upon these regulations, only to see the rules change after the fact,” William Hill said. “We are evaluating our options, but most of all, we are sorry for the inconvenience this will cause our loyal customers.”

The company declined to comment on whether it will file a lawsuit to overturn the law. Billy Vassiliadis, an NRA lobbyist and a principal of R&R Partners in Las Vegas, was unavailable for comment.

William Hill kiosks are typically found in taverns, including PT’s Pubs, Buffalo Wild Wings and other sports bars and restaurant chains statewide. The kiosks offer locals an opportunity to place a wager without making a trip to a resort’s race and sports book.

With so few sports betting kiosks in taverns, Valentine didn’t expect their loss to have a negative effect on business.

The bill does not affect mobile or Internet sports betting in Nevada, nor does it affect kiosks offered by nonrestricted gaming properties in cities like Pahrump.

David Strow, a spokesman with Boyd Gaming, said the company fully supports the resort association’s position on this legislation. A Station Casinos spokeswoman referred any comment to the resort association.

“The bill should have passed,” Valentine said. “We are appreciative it did.”

Sports betting kiosks are far from a multimillion dollar business in Nevada. The total take from the sports betting kiosks was $600,000 or about $7,142 per-kiosk, last year.

By comparison, the entire industry in Nevada earned $170 million, or 4.9 percent of the $3.4 billion wagered in 2012.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

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