Nevada gamers get slot reinforcements

Feb 25, 2003 7:11 AM

Following a GamingToday expose of cracks in Nevada’s coinless slot tests, state regulators are getting some help.

The Gaming Control Board has asked the Legislature for four new software engineers to relieve a backlog in its electronic services division. Lawmakers responded last week with committee approval of the proposal.

"Our electronic services people are under a great deal of stress and it was critical we reduce our turnaround times,’’ said control board chairman Dennis Neilander.

Reno-based International Game Technology, the world’s leading slot manufacturer, also hailed the move ”” even though gamemakers will pay higher fees to fund the additional hires.

The increasing volume and complexity of computer-driven casino games has swamped state regulators’ ability to fully test new products. As a result, thousands of coinless games are in play without formal approval.

Compounding the problem, more testing is being done by outside companies such as Gaming Laboratories International. Regulators tell GamingToday that this end-around poses security and accountability risks.

"We’re being asked to approve games based on a piece of paper [saying the game passed],’’ said one state analyst who asked not to be identified.

To bring more of the testing and validation work back in-house, the state will hire four new software engineers at a cost of roughly $100,000 per head, including benefits. That will bring the number of engineers to 11 ”” with two expected to be hired in March and two more by May.

But even with the reinforced staff, some industry observers say the proliferation of ticket in/ticket out systems adds up to trouble.

"Anytime you rely on an interface between a computer and a printer there can be problems. They are more vulnerable than coins,’’ said one staffer.

Coinless games are in play at some 70 casinos around Nevada ”” though regulators readily acknowledge they don’t know exactly how many.