Regulators to host
‘remote gaming’ hearing

May 18, 2004 7:30 AM

The Nevada Gaming Commission and the Gaming Control Board will hold a rare joint meeting on Friday morning to discuss the ramifications of "remote gaming," an up-and-coming technology that allows gamblers to place bets or play their favorite games from a location outside the casino.

The meeting, scheduled for 9 a.m. in the Grant Sawyer Building at 555 East Washington Ave., room 2450, will invite remote gaming providers to discuss their products, as well as public reaction to the new technology.

The two panels will also discuss an array of issues and concerns that have arisen with the anticipated arrival of technological developments — some of them hand-held — that could change the way people gamble.

Board member Scott Scherer said kiosks and personal computers are already being used for horserace betting and sports wagering in Nevada, and that "there are a lot of proposals floating around for remote wagering."

Among the many remote gaming proposals — some of which are actually ready for implementation — are in-room betting on keno or bingo games, remote betting on live games such as craps, blackjack or roulette, and the ability to play casino slot machines from the hotel’s guest room via interactive television or from a hotel restaurant or pool via a wireless handheld remote.

As noted by Scherer, remote sports betting is already a reality in Nevada. American Wagering, which owns Leroy’s sports books, manufactures kiosks that allow bettors to make a wager from a casino location other than the sports book. And VirtGame makes a system that lets players bet on games from various pubs and taverns in Las Vegas.

Scherer said there are three issues that have to be addressed before the Gaming Control Board can give its approval for the process to continue for the further development of technology that would allow gamblers to place their wagers from off-site locations:

Does the technology work — is it secure and accountable?

Are there legal issues that would put the technology at odds with federal and state laws?

Would the proposed technology be good for the state of Nevada?

Three years ago, Nevada passed legislation (AB 466) that would allow for "interactive gaming," which would include betting on sports events or games via "communications technology" that would not be in violation of state or federal statutes. The Internet, because of the Wire Act, would not be considered a viable medium for the transmission of bets.

According to Marc Warren, senior research specialist for the Nevada Gaming Commission, topics that are expected to be covered include:

Will the Nevada Legislature need to revise gaming laws to accommodate the new technology?

Should so-called convenience gambling (grocery stores, convenience stores, laundry mats) be limited to specific venues?

Can the technological advances be incorporated in such a way that "the growth of gaming within Clark County proceeds in an orderly and responsible manner" as mandated by Nevada state law?

Will the new machines increase or decrease revenues and taxes, and how will the breakthroughs in technology affect the overall market?

What will the impact be of off-site gambling be on casino employees and investors?

How many jobs will be created?

How can the new gambling devices be controlled so that they are operated only by people who are inside the state’s borders and only by people over the age of 21?

What will be the impact of the new gambling methods on problem gamblers?

How can the new technology be shielded against unlawful activity including identity theft and hacking?

People who would like to address the commission and board should contact Warren at (775) 684-7791. Presentations will be limited to no more than 10 minutes.