Regulators to examine lifting cell phone ban

Aug 12, 2008 7:04 PM

By Kevin Stott| | "I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better." – Georg C. Lichtenberg

Will Aug. 21 be the beginning of the end of the cell phone ban in sports books in Nevada?

Only time will tell but the Nevada Gaming Control Board has done its work on the matter and now it’s up to the state’s five-member Gaming Commission to examine the issue at its upcoming meeting on Aug. 21 in Carson City.

Randall Sayre, one of three members of the state’s GCB, updated the plight of one of the most talked about issues in sports books in the Silver State in the last decade – good old Regulation 22.135, the prohibition of the use of communication devices in casino’s designated sports book areas.

"It went through a number of workshops and then it went to the Board, and during the Board discussions the issues were ferreted out and then it was resolved on a 3-0 vote to go to the (Gaming) Commission for repeal," Sayre said of the regulation, a longtime nuisance for sports bettors, sports books, casino security and the NGC and GCB themselves.

"When it got to the chairman of the Commission (Peter C. Bernhard), in all fairness to this two-tiered system, he expressed that he wanted some additional information with regards to ‘unintended consequences’ of an absolute repeal of that particular provision. Now staff and the board are going to respond to his request and provide him and the Commission with some additional insight with regards to cell phones and that particular tool and how that’s used in an enforcement capacity with regards to laying off bets, messenger betting, etc.

"Now, what kind of an impact that would have at Commission level I clearly am not in a position to opine on. They’re going to have to figure out how they wish to weigh that themselves. I have asked the Enforcement Division to respond to his (Bernhard’s) request and then I will make that available so that he can consume that. The issues have all been ferreted in workshops and also the board public meeting. I just think he’s being very cautious."

So basically, the ball’s now in the NGC’s court.

As a GCB member, Sayre is not in position to predict what the Commission will do but he and his fellow board members have presented the NGC with enough to work with to make an educated and responsible decision if so deemed nine days from now.

"I’m not going to speculate with regards to the Commission action," Sayre said. "Clearly I can tell you how I feel. I mean I’m already out there, I’m on the public record and I’ve told the world how I feel regarding this particular provision.

"Chairman (Dennis) Neilander’s out there and Mr. Clayton is out there. So the three of us are out there in terms of how we feel. You know, the Commission (NGC) adopts and repeals regulations. The Board (GCB) makes the recommendations. And so they’ve got our recommendation and they’ll act appropriately in terms of what they feel is best in supporting public policy."

Although he knows he doesn’t have the final say in this matter, Sayre is realistic about the regulation as well as each casino in Nevada’s ability – and willingness – to enforce it in our modern world, now inundated with cell phones, laptops and text messaging.

"The technology has advanced to such a point that the law is probably behind the power curve," Sayre said. "And I’m not an advocate of having laws on the books that serve no regulatory purpose."

The NGC’s Aug. 21 meeting in Carson City will be broadcast in Las Vegas at the Grant Sawyer Building, 555 E. Washington Ave.