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Clark County Commissioners want to more clearly define tavern ordinance

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Updated: 4/16 8:40 am

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Clark County commissioners are taking a look at the county ordinance about taverns to tackle the issue of what constitutes a legal tavern.

The county ordinance states that a tavern can have up 15 slot machines maximum.

The law also states revenue from gambling is "incidental" to the "primary" business of serving food and alcohol.

"It can't be so complicated that an everyday person can't understand what are the regulations or what determines "incidental," Commissioner Steve Sisolak said.

Commissioner Larry Brown says it should be easy to know what a business is when you walk inside.

"Is it a convenience store? Is it a grocery store? Is it a bar? Or if you walk in and see a beautiful place with 15 slot machines, it's a slot parlor," Brown said.

But somehow the ordinance is being bypassed. Commissioner Sisolak says some taverns don't even have food at all, or very little, making most of their profit on gaming, which is contradictory to the intent of the ordinance.

"What do we want to say and how can we say it? Put some teeth into it and some enforcement because I believe that's what we were lacking," said Commissioner Lawrence Weekly.

At issue are the definitions of "primary" and "incidental." Sisolak says "incidental" is defined as "secondary," which is what he says gaming is supposed to be at taverns. Primary (to him) is the main source of business revenue.

Until this is made more clear, and is vividly enforceable, a moratorium has been placed on taverns applying for Class A gaming licenses. That suspension started a month ago. Since the moratorium is still in effect, commissioners want staff to spend more time refining the tavern ordinance language before making any decisions.

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