U.S. Sen. Dean Heller said Thursday he expects legislation to be introduced in the next month or so to outlaw all Internet gambling except online poker, putting a stop to what he called “the wild wild West” of gambling if every state were allowed to operate online games of chance that compete with Nevada casinos.
Heller, R-Nev., also said he believes Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson, who is waging an all-out campaign to stop Internet gambling, makes some good points, including how widespread online gambling could cause social ills and how online competition could devastate the Silver State’s gambling and tourist industry.
“I think Adelson brings up some reasonable concerns,” Heller said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board.
“And to have the wild wild West as an empire of gambling for the country would have some serious social implications. And I think that’s what he’s concerned with,” he said.
Heller said he has talked to Adelson and met with the other side, or the vast majority of gambling leaders who favor unchecked Internet gambling. Steve Wynn recently joined Adelson in opposing Internet gambling, but otherwise the two giants of the industry stand alone against the American Gaming Association.
“I think the devastation for bricks and mortar (casinos) in this state … would just be a final nail, I think, in keeping these businesses healthy,” Heller said.
Asked why he thinks most gambling properties favor Internet gambling, Heller said they think they can make money.
“These are corporate entities and they believe they can play the game,” Heller said.
Heller and U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., have been working together to come up with a bill to restore the Wire Act, which used to prohibit Internet gambling until the Obama administration several years ago loosened the law to allow Illinois to offer lottery tickets online.
The two Nevada senators also want to carve out an exception to the ban for online poker.
Sixteen states are considering online gambling, including California, Heller said, adding there would be no incentive for Southern and Northern Californians to visit Las Vegas or Reno if they can gamble at home.
He said a carve-out for online poker makes sense because it’s a game of skill, not chance.
Casino dealers at three of the Strip’s most popular resorts have overwhelmingly approved a multi-year contract with Caesars Entertainment Corp.
Dealers at Paris Las Vegas, Bally’s and Harrah’s voted 342 to 27 to approve the five-year deal, which retains grievance procedures, seniority rule and paid time off, among other issues, according to a union official.
“It was certainly not everything we wanted, but they didn’t get everything they wanted,” Transport Workers Union Local 721 gambling director Joe Carbon said.
Carbon attributed their success to “moving away from a strategy of getting in your face to trying to work with them.”
He said the Transport union represents around 1,200 employees at the three properties.
State gambling regulators signed off on a $1 million fine against owners of the Peppermill Casino in Reno after the property’s owners admitted they allowed an employee to use a common slot machine “reset” key on games operated by competing Northern Nevada casinos to steal proprietary information.
Peppermill President William Paganetti appeared at the hearing in Las Vegas and read a brief statement, apologizing for the casino’s action.
Paganetti told the commission he had reached out to other Northern Nevada casino owners to apologize for slot machine tampering.
The key — known in the industry as a 2341 key — is a common tool used by slot machine technicians to gather information or reset a game following verification of a large jackpot.
Most of the keys are generic and work on slot machines of all manufacturers.
Schreck told the commission the information gleaned from the slot machines was never used by the Peppermill.
“The information was never used to gain a
competitive advantage,” Schreck said. “It was to satisfy curiosity.”
A widely publicized shooting in the heart of a tourist area apparently had a minimal effect on Las Vegas visitation.
A year ago, prosecutors said, Ammar Harris shot Kenneth Clutch Cherry Jr. while the two were driving separate vehicles on the Strip in the early morning hours.
When Cherry was shot, he crashed his car into a taxi, which burst into flames, killing the driver, Michael Boldon, and his passenger, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund of Maple Valley, Wash.
When the story reached local, national and international news outlets, some said Las Vegas tourism would limp along for the rest of 2013, ailing from the negative publicity.
That didn’t happen.
In 2013, 39.67 million people visited Las Vegas, down 0.1 percent from 2012’s record number of visitors, 39.73 million, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported.
Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s interactive subsidiary has acquired an Israel-based social gaming business, the company’s fourth deal in the past few years to expand its presence in the growing free-to-play gaming market.
Caesars did not disclose financial terms to acquire Pacific Interactive, which owns the slot machine-style, free-play application House of Fun.
Social gaming has become a growing business for several gambling companies, including Caesars, which owns the World Series of Poker and Playtika, and International Game Technology, operators of DoubleDown Casino.
The activity is free to play on Internet platforms, including Facebook, but customers often make nominal purchases — usually of less than $1 — to acquire thousands of virtual gaming tokens.