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Emily D. Swoboda

Nevada Gaming Commission Solidifies Mobile Handheld Gaming Device Rules

30 March 2006

Last Thursday the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) passed regulations set forth by the June 2005 passage of Assembly Bill 471, which authorizes the use of mobile communication devices for gaming in Nevada casinos, making Nevada the first state in the U.S. to allow mobile gaming.

The new rules, which apply to a range of games, including bingo, poker, blackjack and horse race betting, prohibit the use of the devices in hotel rooms and other places that cannot be supervised, but they can be used in any public areas of licensed casinos, such as in restaurants and poolside.

The devices, which are similar to personal digital assistants (PDA) like Palm Pilots, will operate on a closed system within the casino. A central server in the casino containing a random number generator communicates with the handheld device through a Wi-Fi connection. Casino patrons with valid identification will most likely be able to check out the devices from the cage. When they are finished, the device is returned to the cage and winnings are disbursed by the cashier.

Peter Bernhard, chair of the NGC, said the regulations and technical standards were adopted to establish a framework under which proposed mobile gaming systems will be evaluated by the GCB staff before being subjected to field trials and eventually presented to the Board and the NGC for final approval.

During the next few months, gaming and technology companies are expected to submit proposals for their wireless gaming products to the GCB Technology Lab for testing, and several companies are already in position to submit their products.

FortuNet, a Nevada-based gaming equipment company, has had its handheld bingo gaming system, BingoStar90, in casinos since the early 1990s, but it has not been authorized for use outside of bingo halls.

Jack Coronel is Director of Compliance and Strategic Development at FortuNet. He said the company is now developing a mobile handheld device for use throughout casinos. Its games portfolio for these devices will also include games like keno, poker and horse wagering.

Las Vegas-based Progressive Gaming International Corporation is reportedly planning to submit a wireless version of its Rapid Bet Live product, which is a real time wagering system that allows players to place bets during a live event.

Louisiana-based gaming technology company Diamond I, Inc. has signed a Letter of Intent with The Palms Resort and Casino in Las Vegas in which the companies have agreed to continue to develop a working relationship relating to Diamond I's WifiCasino GS product.

To address security issues WifiCasino GS systems will have a biometric authentication button, which is a thumb print reader. Every time a patron places a bet they will first have to place their thumb on the button to verify they are the person authorized to use the device.

Further, Diamond I announced today that it had acquired all of the rights to a patent-pending voice-recognition biometric security technology.

"We're trying to cover every base possible," said CEO David Loflin.

Diamond I plans to submit WifiCasino GS to the lab in April, Loflin said.

Cantor Gaming, an affiliate of the UK financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, sponsored AB471. Their lawyer, Bob Faiss of the Las Vegas firm Lionel Sawyer and Collins, drafted the bill, and Cantor was instrumental in the lobbying process and testimony for the bill. Now that they have seen their work come to fruition, they too have a product to present to the board.

Cantor Managing Director Joe Asher said the company is in active discussions with the Commission regarding its Mobile Gaming System. He said he predicts a huge amount of success for mobile gaming products thanks to modern culture.

"We live in a society where people are very accustomed to mobile devices," Asher said. "People also want what they want when they want it. It used to be if you wanted the news you had two choices: you could catch the evening news or you could read the morning paper. Now you can log on to the Internet and get it whenever you want."

Now that the regulations have been set in stone, companies can submit their products at any time, but they should be prepared to wait up to nine months for full approval because that is how long it will take to test each product, according to the GCB.

Nevada Gaming Commission Solidifies Mobile Handheld Gaming Device Rules is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda