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Howard Stutz

Fortunet Gets Preliminary Approval

8 September 2006

NEVADA -- State gaming regulators granted a third casino-equipment manufacturer tentative approval Thursday to operate wireless hand-held gambling devices in Nevada.

But Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander thought it would be six months at the earliest before the devices could find their way into Nevada casinos.

The three-member control board gave Fortunet preliminary approval to distribute hand-held equipment for full casino gaming. The company's devices are now in use in bingo rooms around the state. The Nevada Gaming Commission will make a final ruling Sept. 21.

Previously, state regulators approved Cantor G&W and slot machine giant International Game Technology to compete in the emerging mobile gambling market.

The regulations covering the use of wireless gaming equipment were approved earlier this year. However, Neilander said the equipment must still be tested and approved by the control board laboratory and then operated and evaluated in a 90-day field trial.

"I think we're still at least six months away from seeing these devices out in casinos, maybe longer," Neilander said.

Fortunet Chief Executive Officer Yuri Itkis said his company's devices, which are about the size of tablet-sized personal computers, are now used with bingo games. But customers can also use them for nongaming purposes, such as playing solitare or listening to music.

Itkis said the initial goal is to equip the devices for keno, video poker, and slot games. His plan is to market the devices to bingo customers already familiar with the hand-held equipment, trying to encourage the players to gamble on other games, too.

In a presentation to gaming regulators, Itkis said the devices have several built-in security measures to protect the casino and the customer.

Recently, Itkis said Fortunet's wireless gambling devices were used in a casino on a major ocean cruise ship. A confidentiality agreement forbade him from divulging the cruise line's name, but he told the control board the test seemed to be successful.

Fortunet Gets Preliminary Approval is republished from