Nevada enacts wireless gaming law

May 31, 2005 2:44 AM

The Nevada Senate last week approved and sent to Gov. Kenny Guinn for signing a bill that would authorize wireless gambling devices at licensed casinos.

The bill, Assembly Bill No. 471, was previously approved by the state Assembly by a unanimous 41-0 vote.

Once signed, the measure would permit Nevada casino patrons to gamble in public areas — bars, restaurants, poolside, etc. — via PDAs or other portable devices supplied by the casino.

PDAs or personal digital assistants are handheld computer devices that are connected to a mainframe system via microwave transmission.

Even though the governor is expected to sign the measure before the current legislation session ends in two weeks, it could be months or longer before the Nevada Gaming Commission adopts the regulations that would govern wireless gaming.

Although rules for their usage haven’t yet been formulated, the wireless gaming devices are expected to allow casino patrons to play the slots, roulette, poker and blackjack from casino locations such as restaurants, bars, poolside and other public areas, but not in guest rooms or off premises.

To ensure only legal adults could use the devices, a security system such as a retinal scanner or fingerprint reader would be programmed to allow only a registered user to operate the system.

When the casino customer finished his stay at the hotel, he would return the device to the casino.

Several companies lobbied for the legislation and will eventually seek licenses to market their products. One of them is Louisiana-based Diamond I Technologies, which has developed a PDA-based gambling system for casinos, cruise ships and racetracks.

Specifically, Diamond I Technologies is hawking its WiFiCasino Gaming System, which is being shopped at several Nevada casinos for possible field trial.

"WiFi" refers to "wireless fidelity," an industry standard for wireless equipment that meets FCC standards while operating in the 2.4 and 5.8 gigahertz radio spectra.

Diamond I’s system would allow casino customers to play slots, video poker and other electronic games via a PDA issued by the casino.

The system would also be capable of offering other services, such as Internet access, ordering meals and drinks, making show reservations or accessing concierge services.