Boomtown Reno Online Gambling Fiasco Brings Formal NGCB Complaint

Updated: May 22nd, 2018 by Dev Ops

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has filed a formal complaint against Nevada’s Boomtown Reno Casino after the west Reno property, in a months-long display of incompetence and lack of oversight, served as an affiliate for at least two Curacao-licensed online-gambling operators who accept action from Nevada residents, in direct violation of that state’s online gambling laws.

The 11-page complaint was forwarded to the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC), the regulatory oversight body that has the power to impose penalties against Boomtown Reno in the case. Based on the information presented in the complaint, that’s all but assured, as the casino demonstrated an utter lack of process control in its attempt to bring some “free play” social-casino games to its online Boomtownreno website as part of its marketing and promotional efforts.

It’s rare for a Nevada-licensed casino to be the central focus of a tale so farcical, yet that’s what happened here. According to the complaint, the casino sought to add some free-play casino games to its website sometime around September of 2016, and then a month later, tasked a single employee, the company’s web developer and graphic designer, with doing the project.

Whether this tasking was done after a company review determined that designing such games in-house was far too costly, or whether the web developer made that determination later, isn’t quite clear, yet the situation went from bad to worse: The web developer ended up contracting with two Curacao-licensed online-gambling operations, Affiliate Edge and Deck Media, and eventually put up at least 15 different affiliate links to the Curacao-based sites.

At least 11 of the 15 sites offered real-money action to US and Nevada residents, and at least three of the 11 offered return links to Boomtown Reno. Whether the sites operated in violation of the US’s Wire Act, as the NGCB complaint alleges, isn’t quite clear; international businesses in general are not strictly bound by US law. The sites were definitely in violation of Nevada’s own online-gambling laws by offering their services to Nevada gamblers, even if the Curacao companies might be beyond Nevada’s jurisdictional reach.

That won’t save Boomtown Reno from the state’s wrath, especially since the casino has never been approved, or even applied for, online-gambling licensure.

The aforementioned web developer, who’s not named in the complaint, appeared to have no clue as to what Nevada’s online-gambling laws entailed. And the casino’s executives are every bit as comically ignorant, having tasked the project in its entirety to the developer, then doing zero follow-up regarding the results. The illegal links remained on the Boomtownreno site for five months, from March 2017 to August 27, 2017, when they were ordered removed by an NGCB agent. The sites remained active despite at least two separate complaints from a Boomtown customer early on — in March and April — that the affiliate links were illegal.

Boomtown Reno even received an affiliate payment of $1,621 from Affiliate Edge at one point, and somehow duly processed that into the corporate coffers. How any of this managed to pass through the company’s accounting and legal operations remains utterly unknown, but is viewed by the NGCB as an embarrassment to the entire Nevada gaming industry.

Here’s an excerpt from the complaint:

“It appears Boomtown ceded complete control concerning links to online gaming on its website to one employee of Boomtown: its graphic and web designer. It appears this person had little, if any, understanding of gaming laws. It further appears that Boomtown exercised little, if any, oversight concerning this employee’s actions with regard to placing links to online gaming on Boomtown’s website.

“Boomtown failed to maintain sufficient level of supervision and control over its website and its employee to prevent links on its website leading to other websites which apparently allowed real money wagering in apparent violation of the Wire Act.

“Boomtown further failed to inquire into the nature of the links on its website when it received payment from the websites and when a patron of Boomtown questioned the legality of the activity on one of the links.”

Boomtown Reno is likely to face some severe financial penalties as a result of the whole embarrassing affair. The NGC could even yank the casino’s operating license, though it’s unlikely the Commission would take it that far. Nonetheless, it’s unlikely that the casino will be approved for any sort of online gambling in the foreseeable future, and that might have an impact if the casino sought to offer online sports betting somewhere down the road. Boomtown Reno’s soup-to-nuts incompetence within this project should serve as a regulatory deterrent.


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