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county government:

County: Some taverns with slot machines must change or close

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Justin M. Bowen

Cherie Nepote plays a slot machine at Dotty’s near Eastern and Serene in Henderson on Thursday, March 24, 2011.

Updated Tuesday, April 5, 2011 | 8:08 p.m.

Dotty's

Cindy Clark plays a slot machine at Dotty's near Eastern and Serene in Henderson on Thursday, March 24, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Dotty’s and similar taverns will have to perform substantial renovations or shut down after Clark County commissioners on Tuesday approved new regulations for taverns with slot machines.

Commissioners approved the controversial changes after discussing four proposed ordinances for about five hours. Commissioners Tom Collins and Chris Giunchigliani voted against the change.

Some taverns came under fire from big casinos that argued Dotty’s and some similar establishments weren’t in compliance with regulations that allowed taverns to have a “restricted” gaming license if slot machines were “incidental” to the main business.

The Nevada Resort Association argued that some of the taverns used gaming as their main business, while Dotty’s said its business model was already approved by the Gaming Control Board and previous commissioners.

New ordinances initially were proposed by the Resort Association, the Nevada Tavern Owners Association and commissioners Giunchigliani and Steve Sisolak.

After more than three months of discussions, the two associations and some of the other interested parties came to an agreement on the proposed changes, but Dotty’s and a handful of other tavern operators still argued against the ordinance, saying they had done nothing wrong.

The approved ordinance ended up being a mix of details from the proposals, with some additions and changes added as commissioners discussed them.

The result was one of the most confusing county commission votes in recent memory, requiring multiple procedural votes and county staff and commissioners repeating the details of the ordinance over and over to make sure everyone was on the same page.

The ordinance requires new taverns to be at least 2,000 feet apart, have a minimum of 2,500 square feet of space open to the public, a bar with at least eight slot machines built in, a kitchen, and a restaurant with at least 25 seats that serves food for at least 12 hours a day.

The changes also require existing taverns that don’t have a bar with machines to add one within two years. Existing establishments don’t have to add a restaurant or meet the other requirements.

Commissioners did add a line to the ordinance allowing existing taverns that are more than 20 years old to be grandfathered in and not have to meet the bar requirement.

But the changes essentially end Dotty’s business model of small establishments that only serve basic food and drinks.

Mark Ferrario, one of at least three attorneys representing the chain at the meeting, said the company got the message and if the changes were passed, they would no longer operate in Southern Nevada.

Sisolak and proponents of the changes said Dotty’s was not following the existing law and the retroactive part of the ordinance was necessary to keep other businesses from doing the same thing.

But Collins and Giunchigliani said it wasn’t fair to force existing businesses to have to change, and the ordinance wasn’t doing what it should have.

Collins also said that requiring a tavern to include a restaurant after the Nevada Clean Air Act banned smoking from such establishments would essentially put them out of business.

“I think we are being un-American and unfair,” Collins said.

Giunchigliani also said she didn’t think anyone would open new taverns under the new rules and it was sending a bad message to other businesses that now have to worry about the county making retroactive requirements for other things.

Commissioner Larry Brown said he, too, was worried about the retroactive requirements, but that the ordinance was necessary to allow business to continue while giving the Gaming Control Board time to weigh in on the issue.

“It’s a significant next step,” he said.

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  1. Watched the last four hours if this hearing. Now I understand why nothing gets done in this county.

    Once they did get to a vote, there is no way they could know the full bill they voted on. It was not in writing for them to review and piece meal read to them.

    This law is going to hurt Clark County small business and I would not be surprised to see it end up in court. To much of it is left to interpretation by the man that designed it. Mr. Sisolak pulled numbers and idea's out of his hat to design this one just to get his way.

    Since when does a county develop laws made by other businesses?

  2. This hearing and the attendees were not prepared to act properly and fairly to all parties. This is a shame that successful businesses are pentalized for being successful. The County Commission and City Hall are selective in their inforcement of certain passages of the law. There should be not restrictions on Dotty's after the new changes are in place. The new changes should only apply to new businesses.

  3. The rules sound pretty stupid so the question is why do they need that special licenses in the first place?

  4. Laws are 98% politics, regardless of the millenium in which a person lives. Laws do not need ethics, morals, principals, truth, fairness, concern for the majority, etc. All they need is a a consensus of the self interested at the time of the vote.

    American Economic Laws today are used to make money for a few who can afford to spend all day working for themselves. The result is that they are able to SCREW the citizen who walks into an establishment for a little entertainment.

    Today, American Law is Rich Man's Law. If Dotty's were required to Spend a lot of money to accomodate the handicapped, that would be Government interference. However, If Dotty's were required to do the same to serve the Big Casinos interest, that's Freedom, Capitalism and Liberty, doing the bidding of the wealthy Executive.

    Those that work all day for themselves are able to afford Lawyers that 1000 people together cannot hire. That is the new "American Liberty", Liberty to Rule with Cash and have no opponents. The rich man rules, courtesy of John Roberts and American "Justice", a journey into the days of Yesteryear.

  5. Way to go, Commissioners -- how many businesses will have to shut down and vacate their space, how many people will be put out of work? So how exactly is this in the public's best interests??

    Clark County despite its window dressing is anti-small business. Read the nightmares and proof @ http://www.npri.org/docLib/20110331_Neva...

    "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from your government. I'm here to help.'" -- the late President Ronald Reagan

  6. "Resort Association, the Nevada Tavern Owners Association and commissioners Giunchigliani and Steve Sisolak "

    This about sums it up ! this is a perfect example of county bullies !! this is no different than school bullying ! you guys have NO PLACE in local government, This is a Federal Investigation waiting to happen which will cost us even more !!!! SHAME ON YOU !!!!!! GET OUT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT B4 we become a county run by communist !

  7. Another win for corporate gaming... sigh.

  8. Ok for Tom Collins but Chris Giunchigliani flipped for the election!, good gesture but your stance was noted originally as "yes"

  9. WOW...I never been to Dotty's but it looks pretty cool. Snacks, candies, drinks, smokes,....too bad there getting screwed by the rich/politics. Good luck with that

  10. Maybe Dotty's can add the bars (and kitchens) and do even more business than ever before.
    The best way to win a battle when the deck is stacked against you is to be even more sucessful, even after adopting the new rules.
    While it looks like they're exempt from the kitchen/restaurant rule, they should try it at a few locations and see how well it works.
    I seriously doubt that many of their customers are the "big casino" type of customer.

  11. Once again, we see "know-it-all" bureaucrats micro-managing the economy. They will never learn, but will we? I'm not defending Dotty's, I have never been inside one of their establishments nor do I intend to patronize one, but I am defending the principle of "free" enterprise, something the bureaucrats seemingly never heard of. It's one of the pillars this nation was founded upon and has become the "straw man" for "politics of envy" bureaucrats playing to the base instincts of jealous minds. Oh, yeah, then there's the fact that "Money talks & BS walks," when it comes to buying politicians.

  12. I agree with all above, It's punishing a successful small business by a greedy big business who ignored it for all these years, but now see it as a threat.

    Why does this country reward failure (AIG and their ilk) and pushing Small business out of business??

    Jonathan

  13. Yep, it seems like the big money interests got their way with the politicos once again. They get the rules changed to limit the amount of competition that they have to face. You just have to love watching the system work. We get something that people like and is making money and the big guys have to try to cut it off at the knees.

  14. Nothing like changing the rules after the game starts.... Disgusting display of corporate greed and the avarice of elected officials.

  15. let's be realistic, this happened for one reason. Gaming contributions to political campaigns. Let's also be realistic about something else, this affects one business with multiple locations.... Dotty's. I've never been into any other place with a restricted gaming license, other than a grocery store or 7-11, that didn't have a bar with slot machines.

  16. To me it sounds like Dotty's got off pretty easy. They built mini casinos that were not in compliance with existing codes and now the rules have been bent for them to operate. All they have to do is put in a bar with 8 slot machines. This is like adding an addition to your house without a permit then saying you want grandfather clause when the inspector shows up!

  17. If the duopoly can eliminate all competition then they can pay even odds on blackjack and craps and up the hold even further on slots. That will surely draw more visitors to the city. The duopoly should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. Maybe the casinos can persuade the goverment to get the taxpayers to fund the tram to these little places so that the people can get to their properties?

  18. If it is approved, then it IS APPROVED. Why are the County Commissioners changing the rules, and forcing existing players to comply. It is noted in these posts that Dotty's should be grand-fathered in.

    But I believe that the real reason this issue exists in the first place - and why it is being brought to the table by The Nevada Resort Association - is because the "big casinos" are BROKE, and they are scraping "the bottom of the barrel" to find more money to enhance their BOTTOM-LINE.

    I guess the former owners' (Mafia) Mob-rule tactics are still in play. Good luck, Dotty's, and others.