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Statewide work permit process considered

Anne Knowles

The legislature is considering a bill that would take away the gaming work permit process from the state’s counties and cities and rely more on the casinos to be sure employees are properly permitted.

Senate Bill 432 is what Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander called the board’s biennial omnibus bill.

“We come forward every session with a bill to streamline operations,” said Neilander.

The bill contains four provisions, including the one taking away from the state’s local governments the responsibility of processing work permits for gaming employees.

The impetus for that portion of the bill was Clark County’s decision to stop processing work permits by the end of the year.

By law, the Gaming Control Board must take over the responsibility, and Neilander said it made sense then to implement the same system throughout the state.

“Our hope is to create a statewide system that is uniform, is revenue neutral and at the same time allows employees to move around,” said Neilander.

The board is proposing switching over to a registration system since the current work permit process would require additional funds.

Prospective employees would get an application from a potential employer.

It would then fall to the employee to fill out the application, get fingerprinted for a background check, have a photograph taken, and then return the application to the employer, which would submit it to the board.

That last point rankled the Nevada Resort Association, which represents the casinos.

“Right now the licensee has no exposure since the employee does it,” said Bill Bible, president of the association.

Neilander said he had an amendment to the bill proposing the board adopt regulations that would allow it to accept applications directly from the employees.

The registration would be good for five years and would let a worker move from one employer to another, anywhere in the state, without reregistering.

During the hearing, Sondra Confron, Tahoe chief deputy clerk, testified that Douglas County is opposed to the bill because the work-permit process generates $79,000 annually for the county.

The county processes about 4,000 work cards every year and charges $75 per card, a fee that is capped by state statute.

That generates about $300,000 annually.

“Douglas County gets $25 per card,” said Confron.

Barbara Reed, Douglas County clerktreasurer, after the meeting, said the $79,000 only covered the county’s cost of processing the permits.

But if taken away it would mean the county would have to lay off personnel.

Douglas County is also worried that it could lose access to valuable information about casino employees.

“We do a [database] search and we know before they leave the building if they have any outstanding warrants,” said Confron.

“The casinos would be responsible for monitoring gaming employees,” she said.

“Isn’t that like the fox guarding the hen house?”

Neilander said the counties would still have access to any information gleaned from the process.

The resort association’s Bible said he wanted a chance to review the amendment before endorsing the bill.

He had no problem with the other portions of the bill.

They include a provision that will allow privately-held casinos to grant options, such as employee stock options, without having to receive gaming control board approval, as they are required to now.

Another provision would enable the board to look into accepting gaming taxes electronically.

And another would allow the sale of antique slot machines defined as any built in or before 1951 without a distributor’s license.