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Court rejects Dotty’s challenge

Dotty’s lost its federal court challenge to the conditions added to its gaming licenses last year by the Clark County Board of Commissioners.

In a 15-page ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Kent Dawson dismissed the lawsuit brought by Dotty’s, which contended the commission overstepped its bounds in changing the terms of the licenses and not staging a fair hearing. However, Dawson also gave Dotty’s, the street name for Nevada Restaurant Services Inc., until mid-October to file a rewritten complaint.

Dotty’s attorneys could not be reached for comment Monday on their next move.

After hearings that drew dozens of often-emotional speakers, the commission voted on April 5, 2011, to require taverns with Class A gaming licenses, including Dotty’s, to install bars with at least eight built-in slot machines. Dotty’s had built a loyal clientele by forgoing these expenses, allowing it to offer slot players higher payouts, but rivals claimed that Dotty’s had unfairly exploited a loophole to undercut them.

In dismissing the case, Dawson found that the commissioners acted properly because the new license terms fit the definition of “conditions.”

“(Dotty’s) has a legitimate claim of entitlement to their licenses only when the county acts to ‘restrict, revoke or suspend’ their gaming licenses,” Dawson wrote. “No entitlement is affected when the county imposes reasonable conditions in order to renew a license because renewal free from new conditions is not mandatory.”

Dotty’s had argued unsuccessfully that forcing it to build a bar, a major change to its business model, amounted to indirectly revoking the license.

Because both gaming and liquor are involved, Dawson added, the conditions the country could create were “almost limitless.”

While the final ordinance varied from versions circulated before the April 5 meeting, Dawson called this and other moves “at most, minor and technical violations of state procedural statutes” that are not constitutionally necessary.

In one footnote, Dawson chided Dotty’s for frequently using terms like the “anti-Dotty’s law” or deriding opposing arguments as “utter nonsense.”

“The court cautions Dotty’s counsel that overly dramatic language of this type is unhelpful to the court in reaching a just result,” Dawson wrote.

Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at
toreiley@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290.

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