Pokerdome dealt joker: Project might need gaming license

A Gaming Control Board member said that a television network’s plan to hold a weekly poker tournament in downtown’s Neonopolis could need a gaming license, a requirement that would kill the project.

Gaming Control Board Member Mark Clayton said Thursday that FOX Sports Net had not approached casino regulators and investigative staff in connection with having poker tournaments played at Neonopolis.

Representatives from the network proposed to gaming regulators a television broadcast studio at Neonopolis where filming would take place for a poker-based game show.

But, Clayton said, „that’s different than what was described“ in an article in Thursday’s Review-Journal.

A spokesman for FOX Sports Net said Thursday that the poker arena and television studio they are building did not need a gaming license because it was a game show.

„There’s no money being wagered,“ said the spokesman, Justin Simon. „It’s free to qualify online; they play for free. In essence, they’re playing for a prize. It’s a game-show format.“

Simon said the prize has not been determined. The network plans on holding the first tournament on May 20 and airing the show the next night.

Three of the 17 theaters at Neonopolis are being converted into the arena and television show.

Clayton said poker is defined as a gambling game, and as such, the Pokerdome would have to apply for a nonrestricted gaming license.

But to qualify for such a license under state gaming law, a facility must include a 200-room hotel, a bar with permanent seating, a restaurant and a full casino that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Clark County also has several requirements for the nonrestricted gaming licenses.

The proposal had drawn praise from Mayor Oscar Goodman and others who saw the poker arena as part of a new excitement for downtown Las Vegas, with the opening of bars and restaurants.

Two types of gaming licenses exist. A restricted license is required for establishments with 15 or fewer slot machines, and a nonrestricted license is required for facilities with any table games or 16 or more slot machines.

An application for a gaming license usually takes several months for investigation. License applications for major nonrestricted casinos, such as Strip or downtown resorts, can take up to a year to investigate.