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Gaming Guru

Richard N. Velotta

Amendments Would Let Liquor Stores Operate Slots

5 May 2005

LAS VEGAS -- For years, liquor stores throughout Nevada have sought exemptions from gaming regulations that prevented them from placing a limited number of slot machines in their stores.

Under two draft amendments to existing regulations, liquor stores would be allowed to place up to four slot machines in their businesses.

The state Gaming Control Board on Wednesday unanimously recommended that the Nevada Gaming Commission adopt the amendments. The commission is expected to consider the proposal May 19.

"When the regulations were first approved, the Gaming Commission did not include liquor stores as establishments that could allow the operation of slot machines," said Dennis Neilander, chairman of the Gaming Control Board.

"As a result, a number of businesses came forth seeking exemptions from the regulations from the Gaming Commission," he said. "This measure allows liquor stores to have a limited number of slot machines. Since minors aren't allowed in liquor stores, they would seem to be appropriate places to allow slot machines."

One of the two amendments recommended for approval by the Control Board defines a liquor store. The second adds their eligibility for restricted gaming licenses -- which permit a limited number of slot machines -- into the regulation.

State regulations already allow slots at bars, taverns and saloons where alcoholic beverages are sold by the drink; convenience stores; grocery stores; and drug stores.

The only point of contention discussed by board members was the maximum number of slots allowed. Board member Bobby Siller questioned why four would be allowed, instead of the seven permitted in other types of stores. While board members had no reference for the reasoning for the number when it was initially enacted in 1990, the board concluded that it was deliberately kept low to prevent an onslaught of new liquor stores, just as convenience stores have proliferated.

In other business, the board recommended approval of two other amendments to regulations to the Gaming Commission.

One amendment addresses the adoption of surveillance standards for nonrestricted licensees. Neilander emphasized that the surveillance standards wouldn't be changed by the amendment, just the process of enacting them.

Under existing regulations, a standard that receives no opposition and is fast-tracked through the system would take five months to enact. Under the amended regulation, the board chairman would be able to publish proposed standards, receive testimony and consider objections before enactment, all within about two months.

The change would enable regulators to react more quickly to changing technologies in the industry.

"It's time to streamline the process, not only for the regulators but for the industry as well," Neilander said.

The other amendment recommended for approval also is a streamlining measure, designed to help the gaming equipment manufacturing industry.

The purpose of that amendment is to give Nevada manufacturers the ability to distribute gaming devices out of state to companies that are licensed by state or tribal gaming agencies outside of Nevada. Current regulations prohibit distributing devices unless the purchaser is licensed in Nevada or the destination of the device is outside the United States.