Gaming bill now study; kiosk sports-betting fight continues
May 27, 2013
The author of legislation aimed at restricting some of the not-so-little "little guys" on the gaming scene has amended the plan into a two-year technology study instead of a new tax.
But one controversial part of Assembly Bill 360 — the elimination of sports-betting kiosks at small bars, taverns and other locations — is still in the plan despite those operators' protests.
Some of Nevada's major resorts originally wanted operators with more than 500 machines — primarily the Dotty's chain of mini-casinos — to pay the same gross gaming tax they do. They currently pay a slot tax that is lower than the gaming fee. Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said the two-year study will provide time to examine different types of new technology to see what the Gaming Control Board and commission think is appropriate for Nevada.
He refused to back down on his argument that the new race and sportsbook kiosks operating in 83 taverns and other restricted gaming locations are inappropriate.
Lawmakers long ago decided a full race and sportsbook wasn't appropriate for restricted licensees. Kiosks, Horne said, aren't appropriate because they have reached the technological level where they are effectively a sportsbook, not just a machine like an ATM.
Horne said the lines between what a restricted property and a nonrestricted gaming licensee can do have been blurred by technology that allows a machine to do everything a race and sportsbook does.
"We're reaching the point where they may be appropriately deemed to be a sportsbook," Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said of the kiosks.
Sean Higgins, representing Golden Gaming, said his clients agree the technology issues should be thoroughly studied. But he said Horne's bill orders that the kiosks shut down July 1.
That is unfair, he said, because they were legally licensed by Gaming regulators. Higgins urged the Ways and Means Committee to at least grandfather those 83 kiosks in for the duration of the two-year study.
He got some resistance from Chairman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, who said the crux of the matter is that the kiosks are "a nonrestricted activity that is being accessed in a restricted spot." She said she has "heartburn" with that and the fact that grandfathering Golden Gaming's 83 kiosks would effectively give them a monopoly in the field until the study is completed.
"You'd have a business for two years that nobody else can get into," she said.
The committee took no action on the bill.