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Under a new state law, companies and individuals are no longer required to run a gaming company or have an agreement to acquire a casino in Nevada before they can file for a license.
Prior to the measure recently signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, in order to apply for a gaming license or a finding of suitability, applicants already had to be doing business with a casino or have an agreement that gave them the right to be involved.
The law, on the books since the 1980s, allowed busy state regulators to focus on deals that seemed more financially secure. But with the Sahara closing in May, and both the Echelon and Fontainebleau sitting half finished on the Strip, regulators say streamlining is needed to draw new investment to Las Vegas.
Hopefully, it will also attract investors seeking to build new resorts.
"It's a good thing for Nevada," Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli said. "It provides flexibility in a license application that they didn't have before. It does not diminish any of the strong requirements for suitability in anyway."
The procedure subjects the applicant to the same level of investigation by the Nevada Gaming Control Board as an applicant for a nonrestricted license but does not authorize any particular industry involvement.
The "finding of suitability" is legal just like a regular gaming license except it expires after two years if not renewed.
The background checks are expected to take a year to 18 months, which is a similar to the time it takes for a traditional gaming license.
However, the initial background check was expected to shorten the investigation time necessary for a person's subsequent application to be licensed for a particular casino ownership or operation.
The new law also includes improvements in the process for handling gaming control disciplinary complaints, and implements fines of $25,000 to $250,000 for each violation of any regulation.
"Nevada is the gold standard for regulating gaming and we must continue to be," Sandoval said in a statement.
The Nevada Gaming Commission must adopt regulations to implement provisions of the bill.
The new law grew out of a class project of a gaming law seminar taught at William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, by Bob Faiss and Greg Gemignani, both gaming law attorneys at Lionel Sawyer & Collins.
"This legislation is going to enhance the orderly flow of new investment in the Nevada gaming industry," Faiss said.
"I believe it is a fundamental and beneficial change to our gaming control system and is consistent with (the governor's) resolve to have a gaming control system that is responsive to the realities of the modern gaming industry," Faiss also said.
Faiss has directed student legislative projects at UNLV during each legislative session since 2001.
All have resulted in resolutions or bills that have been adopted, he said.
Student bills in prior sessions have dealt with issues such as rights of winners of periodic payments of progressive jackpots to assign payment to another person and the authority to appoint interim gaming control board members.
In 2009, Assembly Bill 218 was signed by then Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons, which confirmed the authority of the gaming commission to license government entities, such as sovereign wealth funds and Native American tribes.
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