Proposed rules for Nevada casino work cards challenged

Nevada regulators agreed Thursday to review proposed rules for statewide casino work cards after advocates for the workers raised concerns about Big Brother government.

Representatives of the Alliance for Workers' Rights and the Nevada chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said there could be too much information-sharing about work-card holders among various police agencies.

The state Gaming Control Board, the Nevada Gaming Commission's investigative and enforcement arm, agreed to review the pending rules after the concerns were aired at a commission meeting.

Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said there appears to be little leeway under state law, but added, "If there is some way that we can develop language that satisfies everybody, we're willing to do that."

The review must be completed in time for the commission's Nov. 21 meeting in Las Vegas. The proposed rules are based on a law passed by the 2001 Legislature.

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, chief sponsor of the 2001 legislation, said after Thursday's commission meeting that the intent of the new law wasn't to provide excessive access by police to records created by the Control Board in issuing casino work cards.

Instead, she said, the idea was "to save the workers time and money and excessive background checks" by having one state card. Now, card dealers, slot employees and other workers must get new, locally issued cards when they move from one place to another in Nevada.

Leslie also said amendments to the new law could be considered by the 2003 Legislature to prevent wide-open police access to any personal, non-criminal information -- like someone's bill-paying or medical history -- that might wind up in a casino employee's state work card file.

Neilander agreed Leslie's bill was supposed to help casino workers rather than create hassles for them. But he said a separate, pre-existing law provides for broad police access to another agency's information on people.

Neilander also said work card records generally contain basic information that police already have or can easily get. That would include any criminal records -- but not personal, non-criminal information that might be in a file on a higher-up casino executive who must go through a more thorough licensing process.

Gary Peck of the ACLU said casino workers have to "virtually open their lives to the government" if they want to keep their jobs. "They ought to have their privacy rights properly respected," he said.

Peck also said the purpose of Leslie's legislation wasn't to allow for a "dossier" on a worker that would be kept forever in a central file -- where "any time a law enforcement agency wants to look at it, they can."

Tom Stoneburner of the Alliance for Worker Rights -- who asked Leslie to introduce the 2001 bill -- agreed with Peck that the proposed rule could result in government intrusion "in a very wide and deep way."

Stoneburner suggested a wording change to ensure the information in a work card file is used only for work card-related matters.


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