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Liz Benston

Got $300K? Your private gambling room is ready

10 December 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Nevada regulators have changed some house rules with the goal of boosting lackluster business in private gambling rooms for high-rollers.

Last month, the Nevada Gaming Commission voted to remove a minimum bet requirement for table games in so-called private gaming salons. Formerly, salon players had to bet at least $500 per hand.

The commission also lowered a previous requirement that salon players open a minimum line of credit of $500,000 or put up a combination of cash and credit totaling that amount. Now, players can request a private room with a minimum line of credit of $300,000, a minimum of $300,000 in front money or a combination of the two totaling that amount.

Moves to lower such requirements were in the works before the economic downturn and are aimed at catering to the whims of high-rollers, who often vary the size of their bets.

Only five Strip casinos offer high-roller rooms that can be closed to the general public. The rooms are outfitted with high-tech surveillance equipment with a direct feed to the state Gaming Control Board.

In particular, Wynn Las Vegas has argued that casinos, rather than regulators, should determine what level of play warrants a private room.

In a rare split decision, two of the five commissioners opposed lowering the cash and credit requirements, noting the authority to change these limits rests with the Legislature. The majority argued the salon legislation was flexible.

The result was a compromise given that some casinos wanted to remove such requirements entirely and others were satisfied with imposing some limits, said Commission member Dr. Tony Alamo, who voted to lower the cash requirement.

"We'll see whether, a year from now, play increased, stayed the same or decreased with these changes," he said.