Downloadable games draw regulator’s fire

Jun 3, 2003 6:50 AM

The Nevada Gaming Control Board is concerned about the security and accountability of so-called downloadable slots, gaming systems that control a number of slot machines from a central computer, a board member said last week.

Board member Scott Scherer said that downloadable game systems, in use for years in Europe, would be difficult to regulate compared to how the board oversees slots in Nevada, which run individually on computer chips that each contain a number showing they were approved by the board’s games laboratory.

Scherer, at a panel discussion during last week’s Gaming Technology Summit in Henderson, said that a downloadable system would be problematic, since the board would have to determine how to affix an electronic signature to each game and monitor those who would have password access to the computer server containing the games.

A downloadable system also raises a red flag because its "software can involve hundreds of machines at once," making fraud hard to detect, Scherer said.

As new gaming technologies, such as the now-popular cashless wagering, move forward and confront regulators, the board is going to have to be tougher on operators, he said.

"We are going to be much more strict with noncompliance because there is much at stake," Scherer said. "Sometimes we have to say: ”˜No you can’t, because the regulations say you can’t.’"

"Technology is our number one challenge, and our number one priority," Scherer said.

In the late 1990s, the board was slow to anticipate the emerging technology of cashless wagering, because members and other state gaming officials thought that customers would still prefer coins to the ticket-in, ticket-out cashless games.

"The board became complacent and didn’t see it," Scherer said. "Then Suncoast (casino) started it and it skyrocketed. (As a result) the board had a backlog of systems (waiting for approval)."

When assessing a new gaming game, the board is mostly concerned about whether the device is fair to customers, if is can get the accounting right and if it pays patrons out when it is supposed to, Scherer said.

"The biggest problem is that manufacturers have bugs in their software, and their not jumping on it when the problem is pointed out," he said.

The gaming board is currently looking into the use of wireless devices on casinos floors "to make sure they cannot be hacked into," he added.