Gaming budget seeks funding for work card program, computer tech

Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander told lawmakers Monday local officials are forcing the state to pick up the cost of issuing casino work cards.

He said Las Vegas and Clark County already have decided to get out of the business.

"Very likely we will have other cities and counties opt out too," he said.

In his proposed 2004-2005 budget, Neilander told the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees that will force them to add $1.57 million.

That is one of only two major enhancements in what he described as an otherwise-flat budget.

Historically, the state has required a criminal background check for all gaming workers, and those programs have been handled by local sheriff's offices and police agencies. Clark County and Las Vegas, citing the cost of running those programs, voted recently to get out of the business.

Neilander said that means his office must do the job.

He said Reno may follow suit as early as this week and he expects others to do the same.

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said one casino owner suggested to her that the background checks are not needed anymore and could be dropped. Neilander disagreed.

"To me, it's important that the people who handle money and deal with patrons go through permitting," he said.

The budget request will fund 12 new positions and equipment.

Neilander said the other enhancement Gaming Control needs is a seven-person expansion of its Electronic Services Division.

"The big issue now is how high technology is changing the way people gamble," he told lawmakers.

He said the need is being driven by cashless wagering systems, which he said are becoming "enormously popular."

"And they carry some risk," he said.

Neilander said cashless systems allow customers to gamble without ever touching money, but that they have potential for fraud.

The other issue in the electronic services division is the need to more quickly check out and certify new games.

In the past, he said, gaming relied on machines that "seemed to stand the test of time."

"But gamblers are becoming fickle," he said.

That means casinos are being forced to introduce new games for players on a much more frequent basis. He said Gaming Control needs more staff to "get these machines approved quicker and get them into the marketplace quicker."

The expansion won't come out of the state treasury. Casinos and game makers are assessed the cost of reviewing their accounting, electronic and game systems.


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