Regulators set to
OK wireless

Mar 7, 2006 4:44 AM

Nevada gaming regulators last week took another step toward approving hand-held, wireless gaming devices that would expand the areas in casinos where players could gamble.

The state’s Gaming Commission unanimously voted that the gambling systems are secure and reliable and can effectively ensure minors aren’t using them.

Adoption of the rules for the devices is expected at the commission’s meeting next month in Las Vegas.

A law approved by legislators last year made Nevada the first state to approve the use of wireless, handheld gaming devices for its casinos.

In its current form, the law is limited to Nevada casinos and doesn’t conflict with any federal laws, Deputy Attorney General Mike Wilson told the Gaming Commission.

The devices can be used only in public areas of casinos that have 100 or more slot machines and that offer at least one other form of gambling. The devices would be barred from hotel rooms and other private areas, and from casino parking lots and garages.

Cantor Fitzgerald, a New York-based financial services company, has applied for approval of one of the devices through a Nevada subsidiary. The company says an adaptation of its interactive bond-trading technology will work for casino gaming. Its prototype device isn’t much bigger than a checkbook, can slip easily into a coat pocket and is already used in Britain for sports betting.

Other companies interested in developing wireless gaming products for Nevada casinos include IGT, FortuNet Inc. and Diamond I Inc.

Diamond I has a product called the WiFi Casino GS Concierge and Gaming System, which the Palms hotel/casino has agreed through a letter of intent to "pursue an opportunity" to test in its casino.

The wireless devices would be linked to a server that could verify if the gambler is the person who checked out one of the devices at the casino.

Proponents say the devices can be set to stop working in non-authorized areas, and players could establish limits in advance by depositing money in an account.

High losses in a short period of time could cause the device to shut down — keeping gamblers from going too far in the hole.