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Gaming Policy Committee appointments made, first meeting set for mid-February

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By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: A panel of key gaming figures and state officials will begin meeting next month to consider the impact of Internet gaming and other technological advances on Nevada’s major industry.

Gov. Brian Sandoval announced his five appointments to the Gaming Policy Committee yesterday. The full 11-member committee has not met since 1984. Sandoval will serve as chairman.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Sandoval, said the panel is expected to meet for the first time in mid-February to begin considering any regulatory changes that should be recommended to the state gaming agency and governor.

Nevada gaming regulators recently adopted regulations concerning Internet poker. The Legislature in 2011 also legalized other devices related to gaming technology.

“So the governor wants to understand, from a policy perspective, where is technology headed in terms of its impact on the gaming environment,” Erquiaga said. “But also he will ask the committee to look at what impact does technology have in the long run on Nevada and its entire statutory scheme related to gaming.

“It impacts taxation, it impacts the infrastructure investment on the Las Vegas Strip, it impacts our workforce needs,” he said. “The growth of a technological sector related to gaming impacts the manufacturing side of the industry, which is an economic development issue for the state.

“So the governor envisions the Gaming Policy Committee as the statewide body to look at all that impact of technology both on gaming policy but also on how gaming fits in the larger policy framework of the state,” Erquiaga said.

The review will of necessity require a review of the federal actions related to Internet poker, he said.

Sandoval’s two major gaming company appointees are Keith Smith, chief executive officer and president of the Boyd Gaming Group and president of the Nevada Resort Association, and Jim Murren, chief executive officer of MGM Resorts.

Representing the smaller gaming operators will be Sallie Becker, owner of Bomas Grill in Las Vegas. The two public member appointees are attorney Mark Bruce of Reno and Paul Mathews Jr. with incuBET, a Las Vegas on-line computer game firm.

Also serving will be Gaming Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard and Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli.

Legislative leaders appointed Sen. Valerie Wiener, D-Las Vegas, who is leaving office in November, and Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas. The final appointee comes from Nevada’s Native American Tribes, who have selected Arlan Melendez, chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.

Sandoval, in a speech in November in Las Vegas, cited the potential growth of Internet gaming as a compelling reason to convene the policy committee.

“I hope to help sketch a road map for the journey ahead,” he said. “We must preserve Nevada’s leadership role in gaming – even in this brave new digital world. If we are, as I believe, entering a new era in gaming history, I intend as governor to ensure it is as successful and secure as the last 80 years have been.”

Audio clips:

Sandoval Senior Adviser Dale Erquiaga says Sandoval wants to understand from a policy perspective where technology is headed:

011212Erquiaga1 :25 related to gaming.”

Erquiaga says gaming technology affects everything from workforce needs to economic development:

011212Erquiaga2 :19 for the state.”

Erquiaga says the policy committee’s role is to review all of these issues:

011212Erquiaga3 :14 of the state.”

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