Confusion providesbettors most woes

Jul 1, 2003 6:41 AM

It’s always good to have Keith Copher on your side. After all, he is chief of gaming enforcement in Nevada.

"If people are new patrons to casinos and unfamiliar to betting in Las Vegas, they need to learn the house rules at each sports book," said Copher, who has been with the Nevada Gaming Control Board for 22 years. "Confusion is the biggest problem with customers."

The operation of race and sports books has undergone subtle changes in both physical appearance and house rules. For example race and sports books are listed as non-restricted licensees, a stature that separates them from the many sports bars popping up all over the area.

"Bars or anything with 15 or less slot machines is considered a restricted licensee," Copher said. "The majority of our disputes with patrons come from slots. Problems arise with the alignment of numbers or machine malfunctions. These slots are computers that run 24 hours a day. These things happen and people ask us to get involved."

This is Copher’s second stint in Las Vegas for the GCB, having been here from 1981-89 before heading to Carson City. He returned to Las Vegas in 1996 and has been dealing with cases at his downtown office ever since.

"I would recommend that people out here should wager what they are comfortable with," he said. "Our website, goes into plenty of detail on how what you should know about slots, sports books and other gaming matter."

Copher won’t comment on off-shore betting, other than to say it’s illegal and his office will prosecute those breaking the law.

"Off-shore is a political hot potato," he said. "If we found evidence of people wagering on the Internet from Nevada, we would prosecute."

So, when you decide to wager at your favorite sports book, or are shopping around town for the best possible odds, make sure you know the house rules can differ.

"Each sports book does have its own rules, but they must be approved by the Gaming Control Board," Copher said. "Any changes must be approved and posted at that sports book."

Copher leaves sports book customers with some advice in deciding how much money to risk.

"I recommend wagering what you are comfortable with," he said. "Just be sure of what you are wagering on and what the limits and taxes are at each site."

The Southern Offices of both the State Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission are located in Las Vegas and Laughlin. There are also Northern offices in Carson City, Elko and Reno.

The offices here are located at 555 E. Washington Ave., Suite 2600. The phone number is (702) 486-2000.

Any questions, comments and suggestions on any sports or gambling-related subject matter should be e-mailed to [email protected]