LAS VEGAS — In a decision being watched by other states, Nevada gambling regulators approved regulations Thursday to let slot machine makers and keno companies widen prize pools and offer mega-sized jackpots across state lines.
The new rules adopted by the Nevada Gaming Commission will let companies compete with interstate lotteries like the multi-million dollar Powerball, and offer prize payouts in what UNLV Center for Gaming Research chief David Schwartz called “life-changing jackpot range.”
“I think this is going to be good for the equipment people, the casinos and the people who play slots,” Gaming Commissioner John Moran said before the unanimous vote.
Dan Reaser, an attorney who sought the rule on behalf of Nevada-based slot makers IGT and Bally Technologies Inc., said the idea is to expand slot network games currently offered in-state under trade names like Megabucks and Blazing 7s to states or tribal jurisdictions that approve similar regulations.
“This would allow a Harrah’s property in Mississippi that’s offering Megabucks to hook up with Harrah’s properties in Nevada that have Megabucks and offer a larger prize pool,” Reaser said in an interview before the commission vote.
“If you have more people playing more machines, the prize meter goes up faster,” he said.
Reaser said casinos in Nevada, Indian tribal casinos in California and other states already offer similar so-called wide area progressive slot jackpots.
He said the slot jackpot networks are different from Internet gambling on games like poker and blackjack.
“It’s not a lottery, and it’s not a common game like Internet poker,” he said. “The individual slot machines are sitting there today in the casinos. The only thing interstate is the prize pool.”
Some states, including New Jersey, have been waiting for a chance to link slot machine jackpots across state lines, said A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The board is the state’s gambling regulation enforcement agency.
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard said other states will need reciprocal regulations.
The proposal drew industry support from companies like Gaming Arts, which wants to offer progressive prizes for linked keno games in states where it operates.
Reaser said states and tribes would collect fees and taxes based on systems in their own jurisdiction.
“If the slot machine is in Nevada, Nevada taxes the revenue that goes into the slot machine,” Reaser said. “But the prize would be taxed in the state where it was won.”