Nevada gaming regulators are making it easier for manufacturers to get their products on the casino floor as they ease requirements for field testing of new technologies, slot machines and table games.
The state’s gaming industry, which has reported more than $1bn in revenue for 28 consecutive months, will also soon be subject to somewhat fewer regulations, as regulators continue to comply with a directive issued earlier this year by Republican Governor Joe Lombardo.
An executive order issued by Lombardo in January required that all state agencies detail how their regulations could be clarified, reduced, or updated to ensure rules “provide for the general welfare of the state without unnecessarily inhibiting economic growth.” The directive remains in place.
Among the regulatory changes being implemented by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) is an update to state gaming Regulations 14.080 and 14.130 governing how the board chair “may allow or require that one or more models of a new gaming device, or of a modified gaming device, be tested at a licensed gaming establishment,” prior to full deployment in Nevada casinos.
In a notice to licensees last week, NGCB chair Kirk Hendrick clarified the criteria that he would consider when determining the need to field test new or modified gaming devices in the state.
Although field trials are a significant part of the overall technology approval process, nothing in the one-page notice waives the need for certification by a laboratory that the technology or product meets Nevada gaming regulations.
Effective September 1, Hendrick wrote that the NGCB “chair will presume that a field test of a new or modified gaming device is not required” when the device has already been approved by another state or foreign jurisdiction in which gaming is legal and regulated by a government agency.
The government agency’s standards for gaming devices must be materially the same as those in Nevada, according to the NGCB notice dated August 22. Hendrick also made it clear in the notice that this change was an “effort to expedite innovative technology.”
Field tests will also not be required when at least ten new or modified devices are “concurrently offered to the public with demonstrated compliance of the regulations and standards of the applicable state or foreign jurisdiction at a gaming establishment licensed by such jurisdiction for a period of no less than 30 days.”
The decision to require a field test of a new gaming device remains “at the sole and absolute discretion of the chair,” however.
In a separate action, the NGCB on April 12 approved eliminating various regulations, as well as updating several other rules in an effort to streamline Nevada's gaming regulatory framework to remove outdated compliance requirements.
Hendrick said there was always time to go through state gaming regulations “to see if we can make them a little bit better, a little less burdensome and, of course, more workable for the industry.”
He said those changes could be made while maintaining effective regulations that “this state desires and deserves.”
The three-member control board unanimously approved the removal of more than a dozen regulations and updates to existing regulations.
Those changes unanimously approved by the board were sent to the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) for final approval at a scheduled April 20 meeting, giving the agency enough time to meet the governor’s May 1 deadline established by his executive order.
But final approval of the rule changes has been delayed for more than four months until September 21, when the five-member commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes.
According to state law, the regulatory oversight of gaming in the state is overseen by the NGCB and the NGC, where the commission’s primary duty is acting on the recommendations of the control board for licensing and regulatory matters.
The commission is the final authority on approving the lengthy list of draft changes.
Most of the subsections and amendments dealt with by the NGCB in April reflected outdated regulations due to changes in the gaming industry over the last four decades. Other regulations dealing with hosting centers and auditing of financial statements have been updated.
The Pending Regulatory Activity page of the NGCB's website includes draft language dated August 21 for all 25 regulations.
In other proposed changes, pari-mutuel wagering commissions and taxes have been updated with a licensee being able to deduct up to 18 percent from a “gross pool,” which has been increased from 13 percent. The pari-mutuel wagering tax rate was also increased from 2 percent to 3 percent.
Another proposed rule change would increase the threshold amount from $1,200 to $5,000 at which licensees are exempt from recording a progressive log on a recurring basis.
All licensees would be able to record the amount every seven days if the NGCB has approved the online slot-metering system.
Also recommended for removal was Subsection 3a of Regulation 5.200, governing the operation of a gaming salon on the property of a resort hotel and requiring the operator to notify the NGCB by telephone or email each time the salon is opened or closed for play.
If the regulation is removed by the commission, licensees must keep all internal records for random inspection and board audits.