WHAT TYPES OF VIDEO POKER MACHINES ARE LEGAL IN NEVADA?

Every state with any type of legalized gambling has their own rules and regulations set by whatever government entity that is charged with oversight of the industry in a specific state. The State of Nevada is no different. There has long been a myth that Nevada has ‘wide open’ gambling and ‘anything goes’. That’s never really been true and is definitely not true now. The casino industry in Nevada is no different than the casino industry in other states–the regulation is burdensome, overly restrictive and designed to benefit a select number of political and financial benefactors. In some states, casino licenses are limited making no pretense about the fact that government is restricting competition. In Nevada, there’s at least the pretense of a ‘competitive environment’ though the reality is that the entire body of regulation and code governing gambling is for the benefit of a few corporate casino giants. It’s no longer what is best for the state, the players or the people–it’s what is best for MGM or what Sheldon Adelson wants and has ‘bought and paid for’.

That being said, the specific types of gaming devices that are allowed within the state of Nevada is definitely more permissive than other states. The regulations define all forms of gambling within broad areas but allow variations on these themes contingent on approval. This is different than many other states where the types of games that are permitted and in some cases even the rules that govern them are written into the state’s gaming regulations. Obviously, this sort of government micromanagement is terrible for the players and destroys any type of competitive environment between the casinos that might motivate them to do things for the benefit of their customers.

VIDEO POKER REGULATION IN NEVADA

There are a number of regulations governing video poker in Nevada and within the official Regulations of the Nevada Gaming Commission and Nevada Gaming Control Board they’re covered under a broad area defined as ‘wagering devices’. While some of the rules govern technical matters such as electrical voltage and accounting requirements much of the law on ‘wagering devices’ is in place to maintain a certain degree of fairness and uniformity in terms of how games are operated and played and how jackpots are recorded and paid. For example, there is a regulation that stipulates that if any wagering device jackpot has odds in excess of ‘100 million to 1’ the odds must be displayed prominently on the backglass of the game. The intent of the law is clear–to keep casinos from advertising jackpots that are almost mathematically impossible to win like ‘a Gazillion dollars’. What’s unclear is how the ‘100 million to 1’ odds ceiling was determined if not arbitrarily.,

There are several broad regulations that are applicable to video poker. Devices must not allow a change in payout percentage through any mechanism other than a physical change of hardware or software. There’s long been a myth that casinos can ‘flip a switch’ and make their games ‘looser’ or ‘tighter’. Not only is this not true, it’s against the law. Furthermore, any depiction of real life wagering devices (eg: playing cards or dice) on a gaming device must accurately reflect their ‘real life’ odds. For that reason, the odds of drawing a certain card on a video poker game is identical to doing so in a physical card draw. It’s mandated by law. Finally, there are a number of regulations specifying how a machine achieves randomness–eg: the random number generator.

APPROVAL OF VIDEO POKER GAMES IN NEVADA

When a new game or new ruleset of an existing game is looking to be added to Nevada casinos there is a rigorous testing progress. The designers must prove randomness mathematically as well as prove the validity of the payout frequencies and percentages they claim. Games must undergo testing at a certified lab and then must undergo several stages of ‘real world’ testing including simulations and eventually a provisional placement on a casino floor.

This means that any new games that are introduced have been through a lengthy–and expensive–evaluation process. The Gaming oversight bodies in Nevada make no determination on the appeal or potential popularity of the game–their job is to make sure it adheres to specific criteria of design and fairness.