Nevada’s Top Regulator Seeks Revolution In Technology Oversight

September 29, 2023
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The new chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board is advocating sweeping changes that would streamline approvals for gambling technology innovations.
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The new chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) is advocating sweeping changes that would streamline approvals for gambling technology innovations.

Kirk Hendrick, a 58-year-old Las Vegas attorney, was appointed to a four-year term as NGCB chairman in January by new Republican Governor Joe Lombardo.

“One of the reasons I took this job was to make radical change, make revolutionary change, and if we can get it done collaboratively, this is going to be a big step in the right direction,” Hendrick said on Wednesday (September 27) during an NGCB workshop on technology approval processes in Las Vegas.

Lombardo recently lifted a regulatory freeze he imposed shortly after taking office, but Hendrick seems determined to make Nevada gaming regulations more “risk tolerant.”

Hendrick grew impatient when Dan Reaser, an attorney representing the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM), disagreed with the NGCB’s recommendation that Nevada’s regulatory procedures should be compared to those in other states.

“All I’ve heard since before I took this job was Nevada is slower than other jurisdictions,” Hendrick told Reaser.

“Can you tell me, in a concrete example, why … Nevada would be slower?”

Reaser, who has testified on policy recommendations submitted to the NGCB on behalf of the AGEM, responded that Nevada should not be driven by what other states do.

“The objective of evaluating modernization of technology processes is not just to do enough or just as good as another jurisdiction,” Reaser said. 

“The goal has to be that Nevada is put at the forefront as best in class.”

“Duration”, or the setting of deadlines for the NGCB to act on new gaming devices or technological innovations, is key to modernizing gaming regulations, Reaser said. 

A series of deadlines for regulatory approval would apply only to gaming devices that have been certified by an independent testing laboratory.

“What needs to be discussed is what is the appropriate number of days to complete whatever regulatory process the board decides to implement for a particular type of technology,” Reaser said.

For example, if the modification of a gambling device has been reviewed by the NGCB but a final decision is pending, the device should be deemed automatically approved after three days.

After Reaser spelled out several other recommended deadlines for gaming device applications, Hendrick appeared mollified.

“That’s what I’ve been looking for; I’ve been looking for something concrete that we can dig into and that’s the framework you’ve given us,” Hendrick said.

However, NGCB member Brittnie Watkins and Jim Barbee – the chief of the NGCB’s technology division – expressed concern about whether their agency has the financial wherewithal to operate under deadlines. 

Barbee described the deadlines recommended by AGEM as “curt.”

“It definitely will require some additional overhead … just to track all the timelines,” he said. 

Still, Hendrick ended the meeting by enthusiastically touting the potentially historic regulatory changes he hopes the NGCB will adopt.

“I’m going to use the word ‘revolutionary’. That might come back and bite me, but I hope it’s bigger than revolutionary,” Hendrick said.

“I hope people are talking at G2E [Global Gaming Expo, beginning October 9 in Las Vegas] about how Nevada just changed the game.”

Wednesday’s workshop was the second such meeting of regulators and industry stakeholders this year to discuss changes to Nevada’s approval processes for new gaming technologies.

The NGCB has scheduled similar workshops on October 5 and October 18 to review the state’s regulatory approaches to licensing investigations and enforcement.

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