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Slot-machine jackpots rivaling multistate lotteries get gaming regulators’ nod

Nevada could soon join with other states to offer slot machine jackpots rivaling the awards produced by multistate lotteries.

The Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously approved regulation changes Thursday that allows slot machine manufacturers to increase their prize pools by linking slot machine jackpots across state lines.

The changes were proposed by slot machine giants and International Game Technology and Bally Technologies. Other slot machine companies expressed their support for the regulation changes in letters to the Gaming Commission.

Under the new regulations, slot machines in Nevada casinos could be linked with slot machines in casinos in other states, which could increase the player pools, grow the the total wagers and grow the size of large multimillion-dollar jackpots.

Nevada casinos currently offer Megabucks jackpots, which link slot machines in multiple locations. Indian casinos in California offer wide area progressive slot machine networks.

Attorney Dan Reaser of Lionel Sawyer & Collins, who drafted the regulation changes, said slot machine manufacturers would have to apply to the commission to participate in the mega-jackpots. Reaser said other states would have to adopt the same regulations, in order for the prize pools to be set up.

Reaser said New Jersey, Louisiana, Delaware, and Mississippi are exploring the concept. He said New Jersey seems to be further along in the process.

Gaming Commission Chairman Pete Bernhard said based on the regulation, gaming would not be conducted across state lines. Commissioner John Moran Jr. said the idea was one that could help Nevada continue to lead in advancing gaming concepts.

Reaser told commissioners the system to operate the multistate jackpots has “existed for many years, maybe decades.” One system, which operates Megabucks for IGT, has been “approved by the board and is in use today,” Reaser added.

The regulation allows the Gaming Control Board to provide oversight oversight for the agreements.

The individual states would only collect taxes on the wagers made within their state boundaries.

“The prize will be created by common play in more than one jurisdiction,” Reaser said.

He expects that the earliest a multistate slot machine jackpot could be launched would be next spring.

Proponents said allowing new progressive prizes might increase slot machine play and could help Nevada casinos remain competitive with gaming expansion in other states. The revised regulation also carries a section to include “other games,” which could allow some companies to offer multistate progressive jackpots for such products as video keno.

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

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