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September 17, 2014

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Clark County still examining tighter gaming rules for Dotty’s

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Christopher DeVargas

Michael Eide and Attorney Patty Becker, representing Dotty’s Gaming & Spirits, respond to a series of questions regarding a proposed change to Nevada gaming regulations, Thursday, Aug 25, 2011.

Clark County commissioners announced today they’ll take another month to work out changes to rules covering slot machines at bars while they wait for feedback from the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Commissioners first brought up the issue in March over concerns that some bars were earning too much of their revenue through slot machine gaming. Commissioners set a three-month deadline to make the changes and have been working with representatives from the casino and bar industries since.

Today, commissioners received a report on the industry comments, but they said they weren’t ready to make any changes yet.

Before they do, they’ll wait for the Gaming Commission to weigh in on the issue at its May 22 meeting.

Commissioner Lawrence Weekly said the county will discuss tavern gaming again at its June 3 meeting and could be ready to draft formal changes to the ordinance next month.

At issue is how the county defines “incidental” in its ordinance covering bars with up to 15 slot machines. Gaming revenue is supposed to be incidental to money earned from the primary business of selling food and beverages.

But commissioners say slot parlors like Dotty’s are violating the spirit of the law by operating primarily as gaming businesses. A recent county audit found 15 Dotty’s locations didn’t meet the requirements put in place by a 2011 law. But vague wording in the statute made those citations unenforceable.

“We tried a couple of years ago. We didn’t get there because I don’t think some of the people complied with what the spirit of the law was,” Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said.

Commissioners are looking to change the wording in the law to make it more clear what’s allowed and what’s not allowed.

Commissioners said today they don’t favor a flat revenue test which would require gaming revenue to be less than 50 percent of a business's income. Doing so could force many smaller bars out of business, they worried.

County Business Licensing Director Jacqueline Holloway told commissioners that staff is working on a new system that would include a revenue test as one of several factors on which a business is evaluated. The system would use a variety of weighted factors to assign each business a point-based score, Holloway said.

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