Standalone Slots Back in Action at Nevada Bars, Taverns

  • NGCB directive says standalone games can be temporarily placed next to bar tops
  • It also allows for state's buddy bars to make slot machines available to patrons
  • Slots embedded in bar tops still remain off-limits to gamblers
  • Several restrictions apply, licensees asked to email floor plan diagrams
  • 62 bar owners in legal dispute with governor over being unfairly singled out for closure
drink at a bar with colorful slots in background
Standalone slot machines are once again allowed to operate in Nevada’s bars, taverns, and buddy bars following a new NGCB directive. [Image:]

Embedded bar-top slots remain off limits

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has issued a directive allowing standalone slot machines to be temporarily placed next to bar tops in gaming-licensed bars and taverns.

Slot machines can also be “made available to play” in the Silver State’s buddy bars, the directive said. Buddy bars entail sit-down areas housing tabletop slots.

some solace to restricted gaming locations

The NGCB said it received inquiries into two sections of Nevada’s Emergency Directive 027. One of the inquiries was “seeking guidance” on whether the directive permitted the operation of standalone slot machines that touch the bar top.

While the announcement offers some solace to restricted gaming locations – venues operating 15 or fewer slot machines – slots embedded in bar-tops still remain on the prohibited list.

Slots back but conditions apply

The NGCB also outlined conditions licensees are expected to comply with. Slots must be spaced at least six feet apart. After each use, the machine needs to be cleaned and disinfected, along with its partitions or barriers.

a new floor diagram must be submitted

The directive also requires licensees to email diagrams of floor plans to a given NGC department. It said: “Pursuant to Regulation 4.090: 1) adequate supervision over slot machines must be maintained; and 2) a new floor diagram must be submitted and approved prior to any slot machine being moved, placed, or activated for play.”

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ordered bars to close on July 10, citing lack of compliance with the state’s coronavirus protocol. His order heavily impacted on restricted gaming locations.

Unlike casinos, restricted gaming businesses are not taxed on gaming revenue. They instead pay quarterly or annual fees depending on the number of slot machines in operation.

Not the fairest in the land

Many of Nevada’s 19,054 slot machines, located within nearly 2,000 restricted gaming locations statewide, are built into bar tops. On July 14, just four days after the bar closure order, 62 Clark County bar owners filed a legal challenge against the governor. They claimed they had been unfairly singled out despite complying with COVID-19 directives.

Unveiling his new pandemic strategy on July 27, Sisolak admitted that closing all bars may not have been “the fairest way to do it” after hearing that some were “extremely effective” in their health and safety protocols.

The legal dispute awaits a court decision following the hearing that took place August 13.

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