State of Nevada technically lacking

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The state’s casino industry continues to choke on the dust created by the rapid responses of other gaming jurisdictions to new developments among technology oriented companies.

Nevada lags badly in its ability to remain anywhere near the forefront of the technology curve that has produced new gaming experiences at a pace that is faster than the state’s ability to assess them.

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Bureaucracies have seldom been noted for the speed with which they respond to changes. The Nevada approach to the needs of its No. 1 industry may have once resembled an “engineering marvel,” but the time has come for change.

Indeed, change may be on the horizon as political and business forces struggle with the pressures of both a budget crisis and the need to respond to new ideas in a way that preserves Nevada’s leadership position.

A gaming industry source familiar with the work of the State Gaming Control Board’s lab, which tests all new games and the technology on which they are based before the games can be released for sale across the state, says the existing process has “the forward momentum of a snail.”

But here we are with another opportunity to start doing the right thing, “to put some roller skates under the snail,” as lawmakers ready themselves for another legislative session and special interests with a desire to generate change begin making their pitches.

The big problem, however, is there may not be sufficient money to put big new ideas in place as Gov. Brian Sandoval, a former chairman of the Gaming Commission, figures out how to deal with an expected budget deficit of at least a billion dollars and probably a lot more.

There’s a lot of talk about what can be cut, what must be cut if the most basic of public services are to remain anywhere close to where they are now.

Nevada has been known for years as the metaphorical lab in which new gaming and entertainment concepts and games have been tested and developed before their eventual export to the rest of the world. That reputation is in danger of slipping away.

No, that’s not accurate. It IS slipping away.

Cantor Fitzgerald strategists recognized that the technology used by the company to service the interests of its high finance clients was well-tested old news, but when the company decided to bring its wireless technology to Nevada for development, the company was forced into long delays.

Legislation first had to be written and approved so its products would mesh with rules that were years behind the times. The Cantor technology was treated as though it had just arrived from another planet.

It is old news to report new technology/games can be approved and on casino floors months or even years before the same ideas are in Nevada casinos.

“The people in the lab are hard-working, they know their job,” says a former gaming regulator, but they are prisoners of a process that has not changed nearly as quickly as the rest of the business world with which Nevada casinos are trying to compete.

The privately owned Gaming Laboratories International tests games for a number of casino jurisdictions around the world and can generally certify any technology or game in about 30 days. That’s a big difference from the realities of the Nevada process.

Former Control Board Chairman Mike Rumbolz says it is difficult for Nevada officials to walk away from a “perception of leadership. Nevada is the grandfather of regulatory jurisdictions. We’ve set the bar and standards at levels to which other states have responded.”

And they have responded, allowing technology and games to come to market considerably faster than in Nevada where legislative lawmakers have found it difficult to rip their thinking away from outdated approaches to managing the best interests of the state’s premier industry.

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