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Proponents of new UNLV gaming regulation center seek state funding

CARSON CITY — Backers of a new international center for gaming regulation at UNLV are seeking $500,000 in annual state money.

The state’s show of support for the International Center for Excellence in Gaming Regulation will help move the project along as it continues to seek private donations, supporters told the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. The request is for $1 million for the 2015-17 biennium.

Sen. Mark Lipparelli, R-Las Vegas, said the center would provide a “neutral turf” for the hundreds of regulatory agencies across the U.S. and abroad to gather and discuss ideas for industry best practices.

He said the downside now is that regulators and industry professionals typically only gather and trade ideas on a large scale briefly at annual gaming shows. Then everybody goes back to their jobs until the next year.

Bo Bernhard, executive director of the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said Silver State-style gaming has been exported to all six of the inhabited continents, and that other jurisdictions and countries frequently look here for guidance.

“Never before have all of these efforts and all of these entities been brought together under one roof,” he said.

Lipparelli said the effort has secured private funding, adding it’s “not nearly enough to get us where we want to be.”

The state support will help the center get started, he said, adding he believes additional donors will come forward.

“We view this as a center that needs to be self-sustaining over time,” he said.

The center is in the final stages of selecting a director. The $500,000 would go toward the costs of hiring a director, the new director’s operating expenses, and two other full-time staff.

Center planners also want to bring in visiting experts with expertise in fields such as technology and accounting.

The committee didn’t take action Thursday. But legislators can incorporate the request into the appropriations bill in the final week of the session.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.

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