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June 27, 2017

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Regulators limit kids’ exposure to Addams Family slot machine

A slot machine based on the show "The Addams Family" is about to become the first game to be restricted under Nevada's new "slots for tots" regulation.

On Thursday, the Nevada Gaming Commission will consider approval of the slot machine, produced by International Game Technology. If the commission gives the slot its OK, IGT will be able to begin placing the machine across Nevada.

But the Nevada Gaming Control Board, with the consent of IGT, has suggested restrictions on the Addams Family. The board is recommending the machine be kept in "non-restricted" gaming locations only and out of areas where minors would be exposed to the machine.

The move marks the first time Nevada gaming regulators have invoked the "time and place" restrictions on slots that might appeal to children that were introduced in January.

"It was a situation where they inquired during an investigative hearing whether we'd agree to its placement only in non-restricted locations, and certainly we're agreeable to that," said Neal Friedman, associate general counsel for IGT.

The recommended restrictions came at the insistence of board member Bobby Siller.

"The theme is one that does cater to adults, but we're sensitive to the fact that some children might find this theme attractive," said Siller. "We approved it, but we're sensitive to the fact that in the wrong locations, kids could be attracted to it.

"Not only is (the regulation) working, but there's flexibility here."

Non-restricted gaming locations are defined as those operations with more than 15 slot machines -- typically, casinos. "Restricted" licenses, which are allowed 15 machines or less, are typically issued to such locations as grocery stores, convenience stores and bars. These locations would be off-limits to the Addams Family.

But IGT won't be free to place the machines just anywhere on a casino floor. If approved, IGT would also have to ensure that the machines aren't placed in casino areas where children would be able to readily access the machines, particularly in high foot traffic locations.

"Sunset Station, for example, has a movie theater and an ice cream parlor," Siller said. "We wouldn't want it in those locations."

To ensure that the games won't be accessible to children, the board would be notified whenever the machines were placed in a casino. Control Board agents would then audit the machines in the field to make sure they were satisfied with the location, Siller said.

"We couldn't define every single location," he said. "We'll let the industry operate and make those determinations (as to appropriate locations). We'll be the oversight."

The commission won the right to place such restrictions on slot machines in January, when it approved new amendments to state gaming regulations. Under these amendments, any slot machine theme can be rejected if regulators feel it is "derived from or based on a product that is currently and primarily intended or marketed for use by persons under 21 years of age."

The regulation uses ratings as the primary factor in determining if children are the primary market for a theme.

Board members could not discuss specifics of why they approved the Addams Family, since the theme is considered proprietary until introduced to the market by IGT. But one key provision allows exemptions for intellectual property created more than 21 years ago, as the Addams Family was -- a provision designed to account for the nostalgic appeal such themes would have for adult gamblers.

"We had walked through all the provisions of the regulation, and applied all the criteria," said board Chairman Steve DuCharme. "We came to the conclusion that it was not intended or marketed to people under 21."

The regulation also gives regulators broad discretion to "restrict the time, place or manner in which an approved gaming device may be displayed."

Although this will mark the first time regulators have tried to flesh out that language, Siller said such restrictions won't be applied in blanket fashion to future slot machine themes, however.

"We'll review them on a case-by-case basis," he said. "The mistake would be to come up with one standard (for all themes)."

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