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Boyd Law School legislation leads to modernizing Nevada’s foreign gaming reporting requirements

Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
William Boyd School of Law at UNLV campus seen on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent).

More than five decades ago, Nevada gaming regulators considered any legalized gaming outside of the Silver State as a foreign business operation. 

A year after New Jersey voters approved casino legalization in 1976, Nevada instituted its first foreign gaming reporting requirements.

“The law was written so you would have to get approval to do business in New Jersey,” said Reno gaming attorney Michael Alonso.

Since that time, casinos — commercial and tribal — have been built in more than half of the states, including California, New York and Florida.

The last time any legislative changes were made to Nevada’s foreign gaming reporting requirements came in 1997 – seven years before Las Vegas Sands opened the first casino in Macau that was operated by an American company.

The passage earlier this month of SB266 removes a requirement that Nevada companies provide state gaming regulators copies of all documents filed in other jurisdictions. Instead, the companies just need to inform the control board of their gaming operations in another jurisdiction.

Alonso said the bill “modernized” the foreign gaming reporting procedures.

Nevada gaming companies, especially large publicly traded operations, have numerous internal and external control requirements and financial reporting requirements.

But Alonso said the changes might not have happened without the help of UNLV Boyd School of Law student Doug Billings, who was enrolled in the college’s Master of Law (LL.M.) degree in the gaming law program.

The idea to revise the foreign gaming reporting requirements came to his attention when former Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Becky Harris, who is an instructor at the law school, brought up the foreign gaming requirements as a potential legislation change.

In every Nevada legislative session since 2001 gaming law students at Boyd have recommended changes to gaming regulations. Among the legislation proposed by law students over the years was codifying the rights of progressive jackpot winners and granting Nevada officials the power to appoint interim members to the Gaming Control Board. In 2015, law school students successfully authored an amendment to the state’s charitable lottery statutes so that alumni or local bar organizations could operate charitable lotteries.

The legislative program was started by the late Bob Faiss, a partner in the now-defunct Nevada law firm Lionel Sawyer and Collins who taught gaming law at Boyd. Faiss was considered the dean of Nevada gaming lawyers for more than 40 years before his death in June 2014.

The program was continued by other Nevada gaming attorneys.

Republican Sen. Becky Harris at the Nevada Legislature on Feb. 9, 2017. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent).
Republican Sen. Becky Harris at the Nevada Legislature on Feb. 9, 2017. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

“These policies improve the ability to maintain compliance as well as strengthen the Nevada gaming regulatory environment,” said Harris, a former state senator who also serves as a distinguished fellow in gaming and leadership at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute.

Billings, who has spent the past 25 years practicing business and gaming law in California and Ohio and was recently licensed in Nevada, said changing the foreign gaming report matters caught his attention.

“At first, it was really focused on gaming equipment manufacturers and the unique issues that manufacturers face with having to report all their foreign gaming activities,” Billings said.

The changes to the foreign gaming regulations were part of SB379, which included other matters proposed by Boyd law students, including regulations covering the registration of sports wagering ticket brokers and other requirements concerning gaming employees.

However, SB379 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop (D-Las Vegas), one of the bill's primary sponsors, told the law school class she wanted to keep the changes to the foreign gaming requirements alive. Billings met with Alonso, who took the idea to the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers and got the trade group on board.

Alonso also approached the Nevada Resort Association, figuring companies such as MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, which have operations throughout the U.S., would want to get on board. He said Resort Association President Virgina Valentine expressed support from the operators' side.

“Everybody has a decent amount of business outside of Nevada,” Alonso said.

The foreign gaming changes were attached to SB266, revising provisions concerning the designation of gaming enterprise districts.

In a statement to Vixio GamblingCompliance, which first reported on the proposed changes, Control Board Chairman Kirk Hendrick said the agency took a “neutral position” on SB266 because it wasn’t a bill submitted by the agency.

However, he said staff reviewed the amendments regarding foreign gaming requirements and “the board believes the revisions would more efficiently regulate Nevada’s gaming licensees.”

Through it all, Billings received a crash course in the legislative process. He said it was unfortunate the other UNLV proposals didn’t get into the amended legislation.

“The only issue was working out language and the process that that kind of works for everybody,” Billings said.


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