Those not intimately familiar with Nevada gaming law are often confused about how certain terms, namely “mobile gaming,” “interactive gaming” and “sports account wagering,” are used in Nevada. Here is a guide to Nevada’s gaming terminology:
In 2001, Nevada embarked on statutory changes to permit online, mobile and off-premises gaming for gambling activities other than sports wagering. At that time, some countries permitted broad-based computer gaming over the Internet, others permitted gaming over cable TV networks and still others permitted cellular phone wagering on games through proprietary networks. Nevada coined the term “interactive gaming” to capture and regulate such gaming over the Internet, private wireless networks, private wired networks and geographically dispersed gaming, and the Nevada Legislature enacted a regime to permit the Nevada Gaming Commission (“Commission”) to issue “interactive operators” licenses and “interactive manufacturers” licenses.
The 2001 licensing regime reflected the common terrestrial gaming arrangement where casino operators offered gaming services while manufacturers were licensed for manufacturing and distributing devices. Eligibility for an interactive gaming operator license was limited to those with significant terrestrial gaming operations in Nevada. The legislation contained a requirement for the Commission to determine whether issuing such licenses would be compliant with federal and state law. Because the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued a letter in early 2002 indicating that it believed, without any analysis in the letter in early 2002 indicating that it believed, without any analysis in the letter, that issuing interactive gaming licenses would violate the Federal Wire Act, among other federal laws, efforts to implement licensing of interactive gaming in Nevada ground to a halt.
In 2011, the DOJ changed its opinion of the Federal Wire Act, and Nevada recommended its efforts in this area, with a few updates the 2011 Nevada legislature altered the 2001 interactive gaming statutes to add an “interactive service provider” class of license and to compel the Commission to enact regulations for licensing online/interactive poker.
In 2005, while interactive gaming licensing was still dormant, the Nevada legislature authorized licensing for gaming through mobile devices within certain areas of a casino premises. Therefore, in Nevada, “mobile gaming” refers to the use of non-fixed devices to play gambling games within a casino premises.
Because mobile gaming in Nevada is on-premises casino gaming, mobile devices or connections are treated like slot machines and are subject to slot machines taxes and fees. Likewise, a nonrestricted gaming license is required to manufacture, distribute and operate a mobile gaming system in Nevada.
Sports Account Wagering
Recent technological advances in sports account wagering often are confused with mobile or interactive gaming. Sports account wagering is a separate and distinct class of gaming. The definitions of interactive and mobile gaming in Nevada exclude sports wagering because these forms of licensed gambling are limited to “gambling games.”
The confusion occurs because sports bettors in Nevada have the option to place sports wagers on smart phones, tablets and computers within the state boundaries of Nevada. However, this form of wagering is merely remote account wagering, which Nevada has permitted since the 1970s, via a new technology. In the 1970s, remote account wagering was accomplished through phone calls and pagers to verify the location of patrons. In the 1980s and 1990s, stationary kiosks with modems were introduced to make remote account wagering easier and player geo-location easier. In the early 2000s, Station Casinos pioneered a broadband computer-based product for users of the Cox cable Internet system. Again, the Station Casinos system was merely a new technology to enhance account-based remote sports wagering. More recently, the evolution has continued to permit smartphones and tablets to be used to access remote sports wagering accounts when the patron can be confirmed to be in Nevada through the GPS data of the device and the geo-location data of the cell towers used by the device. Each use of new technology, however, is still governed by remote account wagering rules that Nevada has had in place for many decades.
With luck, this guide helps to clear some of the semantic confusion created by Nevada’s Wild West individualism.