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Rod Smith

Nevada Casinos File Security Plans

7 November 2003

LAS VEGAS -- Nearly half of Nevada's hotel-casinos have complied with a new state law requiring them to file emergency response plans with the state and local police and fire departments.

Jerry Bussell, chairman of the Nevada Homeland Security Commission, said Thursday that compliance is rapidly approaching 50 percent and is expected to approach 100 percent within two weeks.

Most Nevada hotel-casinos missed the Oct. 31 deadline for filing emergency response plans because of ambiguous compliance requirements and concerns about the security of information, said casino executives who asked not to be named.

The commission considered compliance and security concerns associated with Assembly Bill 250 during its first meeting Wednesday, and plans to announce procedures at its next meeting, Jan. 8.

Bussell, however, said compliance was easy and that all casino companies had to do was consolidate information in emergency plans they already are required to prepare. They must submit the plans to the state Division of Emergency Management of the Department of Public Safety and to local police and fire departments.

He reiterated the point that "there are no teeth" in the new law and no discipline for noncompliance.

"I wouldn't support (putting) teeth (in a new law),'" Bussell said. "I cannot imagine a phone call to any property would not bring about compliance. If that didn't work, we'd have a bigger problem (with homeland security) than I've ever imagined."

The issue arose after only 14 Nevada casinos met the deadline for filing the emergency plans.

The new law says plans must include the location of emergency equipment and hazardous materials, an evacuation program and a description of internal and external access routes.

The law was designed to let firefighters, police and other emergency responders know how the properties would react in the event of a terrorist attack or other disaster.

The law affects only resorts with more than 200 rooms, which would cover all casinos built in Clark County since 1989.