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Legislature rejects mobile gambling company’s plan

CARSON CITY — An Assembly panel voted Monday for a casino regulation measure that left out a business-expansion amendment sought by a company that led the 2005 effort to legalize hand-held, wireless gambling devices in Nevada.

The Judiciary Committee voted for Assembly Bill 535, a bill sought by the state Gaming Control Board, minus changes sought by Phil Flaherty of Cantor Fitzgerald LP that would have made clear that licensed wireless device companies could run race and sports book operations.

The change was opposed by Leroy’s Race and Sports Book and the Club Cal Neva, which combined have about 100 legal race-sports betting operations around the state — and which also have existing casinos as their base, in line with existing state rules.

Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander also expressed concerns about the Cantor amendment, saying he didn’t want AB 535 weighed down with other changes. He added that Cantor might want “to find another horse to ride.”

Attorney Bob Faiss, representing Cantor, said that Monday’s hearing was the first chance Cantor had to present its proposal, and committees are under pressure to complete work on many bills by Friday.

Asked whether Cantor would try to attach the amendment to another measure or to AB 535 once it moves from the Assembly to Senate, Faiss added, “We’re evaluating the situation.”

Mike Alonso, representing Reno’s Club Cal Neva, said Cantor should have to meet the same requirements of other race and sports bet businesses, which is to have a casino as a base of operations.

“It unlevels the playing field from our standpoint,” Alonso said.

With the amendment, Alonso said wireless device companies could have run race and sports books without even having a mobile gambling device that has won final approval from regulators.

Keith Lee, representing Leroy’s, also opposed the amendment, saying it would let wireless companies get around the existing requirement for a “bricks and mortar” casino operation.

Flaherty said Cantor, the first of three companies now licensed for wireless gambling devices in Nevada, is preparing its product for final testing. He said that when casino executives discuss use of the devices they also want to know about race and sports book services. Cantor already is involved in such betting in England.

Flaherty also said Cantor is investing millions of dollars in Nevada. Over the next five years, he said the investment could be nearly $100 million.

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