It’s not online gambling, but it looks like it |

It’s not online gambling, but it looks like it

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

Some prefer to do it in the quiet of their own home. Crouched over the computer. Eyes glued to the screen.

The shady – and illegal – online gambling world has now been brought into the light. Carson City residents who favor the privacy of wheeling and dealing in front of the PC no longer have to do business with an off-shore company.

But it’s not really online gambling; it just seems that way. Northern Nevada casinos are hoping to cash in on the crowd that likes to spend its off hours in the casino, then go home and spend nights in front of the computer screen.

The Department of Justice advised the Nevada Gaming Commission in 2002 that the federal Wire Act prohibits Internet gaming. The law doesn’t criminalize the online player, just the site that has the product. But, as one gaming-control board member said, it’s hard to prosecute an online company in the Caribbean.

Nevada’s substitute for online gambling is called PlayAway, and it’s catching on. In February, Casino Fandango, 3800 S. Carson St., was one of the first casinos in the state to roll out the system.

“We’re seeing more and more playing on it,” said Chris Plummer, marketing analyst for the casino.

It works like this: Players go to Fandango’s keno desk and purchase PlayAway tickets with fixed denominations. They go home and log on to play the games. The player returns to the casino to pick up any earnings.

Sound like Internet gambling?

“You’ve already won or lost before you turn on the computer,” said Mark Clayton, a member of the gaming-control board.

He said Internet gaming is different because the player wins or loses based on how he or she plays online.

“It was determined by the gaming-control board that this system did not determine the game outcome, and merely was a method to reveal the results of a game outcome determined at the licensee,” Clayton said.

Customers are really playing keno, but it doesn’t feel like it, said John Taylor, president of GameLogic, the company that developed PlayAway. He calls it virtual play.

“You have bought a multi-race keno ticket, What you’re doing on Internet is merely revealing the results of the outcome of the keno races,” he said Wednesday from Las Vegas.

Taylor said his company is providing its casino customers with new ways of using the Internet, something players want to use, but regulated casinos are prevented from using because of federal laws.

Six casinos in Northern Nevada are using the PlayAway system. It is set to roll out in casinos in Southern Nevada, New Jersey and Mississippi. The company even has a version for tribal casinos.

Since the system just received gaming approval in 2005, its target group isn’t identified. Taylor anticipates slot players will be most attracted to it. The games, which include slot, table and even a PAC-Man-like game, are designed to appeal to a broad audience.

— Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.

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