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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Legislative committee on technology plans to broaden scope

22 January 2014

LAS VEGAS -- A legislative committee formed to study technology’s effects on gaming will go beyond its stated purpose and explore other issues surrounding Nevada’s largest industry.

Issues that failed during the 2013 Legislative session, including entity wagering on sports and allowing bets on elections, may get reheard over the next few months.

During Tuesday’s initial meeting of the Committee to Conduct an Interim Study Concerning the Impact of Technology Upon Gaming, state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said the panel should explore the idea of raising the gaming tax rate paid by taverns and other restricted gaming license holders that operate 15 or fewer slot machines.

The course of direction beyond the committee’s title is just fine with its chairman, Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas.

Horne said after the hearing at the Sawyer Building that he would like the committee, which has six lawmakers and seven nonvoting members from the gaming industry, to hash out various issues ahead of the 2015 Legislature.

“These meetings give us an opportunity to discuss some the important and initial issues ahead of the Legislature,” Horne said.

The interim committee was formed by Assembly Bill 360 to study seven topics that primarily involve technology and the effect on gaming operations and regulations. The were 10 bills passed during the 2013 Legislative dealing with aspects of the gaming industry.

One of the measures signed into law in 2013, Assembly Bill 114, was advanced by Horne and led to Nevada launching the first legal and regulated Internet poker operation in the United States on April 30.

Other emerging technologies, such as mobile wagering, social gaming and data mining, need to be addressed by the committee, which will hold meetings in February and April before participating in a work session in May that could lead to suggested bill drafts.

Horne asked committee members their thoughts on what they would like the panel to explore.

Segerblom, who backed a bill to allow wagering on elections, asked to see the issue discussed again. He also questioned the fees paid on slot machines by restricted gaming licensees.

Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, offered to revisit his entity wagering bill, which would let private equity firms place sports wagers on behalf of their clients with Nevada sports books. The bill passed in the Senate but died in the Assembly.

Tavern operator Randy Miller, a nonvoting member of the committee representing restricted gaming licensees, suggested legislation passed in 2013 be given time to work its way through the process. He also suggested the committee not propose any new laws or regulations.

“We need to see how things roll out,” Miller said. “I’ve been in this business 30 years and I’ve seen more changes in regulations in the past three years than ever before.”

The committee spent the meeting’s first 90 minutes discussing changes and events concerning Internet gaming laws across the country. Three states — Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware — implemented Internet gaming activities during 2013.

Jonathan Griffin, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures, told the panel that at least eight states have the potential to pass online gaming laws in 2014.