Gov. Brian Sandoval: State must protect gaming dominance

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While we just celebrated the 147th anniversary of Nevada's statehood, it has been 80 years since Nevada legalized gaming. Since that time, we have led the nation in terms of gaming's regulatory framework and the innovation exhibited by the industry here in the Silver State. We continued our leadership position in the 2011 legislative session with bills that dealt with private sector laboratories for the testing of gaming devices, as well as a new means for investment in gaming innovations. Perhaps most important, we took significant steps in adapting the state's approach to gaming in the global economy and in preparing us for what will certainly come: Internet poker.

As a result of these new laws, Nevada continues to lead in the areas of gaming regulation and industry growth. We are building on our long history with this topic, and we are doing everything we can to modernize.

When I was chairman of the Gaming Commission, just over a decade ago, the world was a different place. Consider these facts:

• The average teenager sends between 3,000 and 4,000 texts per month. That's more than six per waking hour.

• Decoding the human genome involves analyzing 3 billion base pairs. It took 10 years to do it the first time in 2003. It can now be achieved in one week.

• There are 1.5 billion digital camera phones worldwide.

• There are 48 million people in the world who have mobile phones, even though they do not have electricity at home. The mobile network has extended beyond the boundaries of the power grid.

We can only imagine what technology will bring in another 10 years. And there are policy implications for us in that world of rapid change - as there have been with each new law or economic innovation during the last 80 years. It is for this reason that I have announced my intent to convene our state's Gaming Policy Committee for the first time in a generation.

Created in 1961, the Gaming Policy Committee has a storied history of helping to frame some of the most sweeping changes in our laws. In fact, corporate gaming derived from a study conducted by the Gaming Policy Committee in 1967. In recent years, however, the full committee has not met.

I propose to convene and lead a robust policy conversation about the modernization of our gaming industry and the challenges - as well as the opportunities - presented by the gaming technology era. We have ushered in this era with recent legislative changes. I want to solidify those gains. If we are, as I believe, entering a new era in gaming history, I intend as governor to ensure it is as successful and secure as the last 80 years have been.

The Gaming Policy Committee consists of 11 members, including the governor as chair. I will soon appoint five members, with additional representation coming from the Legislature, the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, the Gaming Commission and the Gaming Control Board. These individuals work will be advisory in nature. We won't be changing the regulatory structure or issuing rulings. Rather, this group will give advice to the Gaming Commission and Control Board, as well as to my office and the Nevada Legislature.

We will examine issues ranging from specific technological devices, to the world of the Internet, to the impact we may some day see on our tax policy and infrastructure from a changed cyber-economy in which gamers will not necessarily need to be on the casino floor. There are many economic development issues inextricably linked to the modernization of gaming, as well as real implications for our workforce. Nevadans deserve a focused policy discussion on these topics.

I want to preserve Nevada's position as the gold standard in gaming regulation and in the provision of gaming entertainment. We cannot know what challenges and opportunities lie ahead. But we know we must continue to work to earn our rightful place. Nevada was built in the pursuit of opportunity - and our generation has an obligation to ensure that the state's future remains bright.


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