Days after media reports indicating that Nevada regulators are cautiously proceeding with plans to adopt an intrastate interactive gaming system, one of the state's top regulators confirmed the process has been put on hold.
Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Denis Neilander told IGN Monday that the board has made no decisions and that it probably won't move forward with such a system until it gets adequate input from the state legislature.
Neilander said he couldn't speak for the Nevada Gaming Commission, or its chairman, Peter Bernhard, but he feels that the direction regulators have taken in the last quarter of the year was not the intention of enabling legislation passed a year-and-a-half ago.
"When this bill was passed, international Internet gaming was the idea behind it," he said. "I don't think anyone was intending for the bill to be the catalyst in getting an in-state interactive system up and running."
Neilander believes Nevada's I-gaming law is open ended enough to allow for intrastate gaming, but acknowledges the importance of making it the direction the state as a whole wants to take.
"We have done a lot over the last decade to curb convenience-style gambling," Neilander said. "We need to be careful, then, before we go and regulate gaming in hotel rooms and in people's homes."
Scott Scherer, a member of the Gaming Control Board, said many regulators are open to interactive gaming--as evidenced by the recent approval of gaming kiosks for testing the state--but added that a fine line could be crossed.
"Once you start talking about opening up an interactive system that allows people to bet or play games from their PCs at home, some aren't sure if that is the best thing for our state," he said. "I think that is why we need to have the legislature review what we have done and the direction we may or may not take."
Neilander mentioned that the state called for an economic study analyzing the potential impact of intrastate gaming. He received the results this week and is in the process of studying them.
"I don't want to really make any statement about the findings," he said, "but I do know their general finding was that it would help the state and not hurt it."
Neilander hopes to present a report on the findings of the study to the board by the end of this month.
The Nevada legislature will reconvene in February in Carson City, and interactive gaming will be a top priority when the session starts. Regulators could decide to do away with the system, move forward with an intrastate system or even encourage regulators to structure a plan for international online gaming.
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