Judge dismisses Dotty’s slot parlor lawsuit against Clark County
A federal judge on Friday threw out the Dotty’s tavern and slot parlor chain lawsuit against Clark County, ruling county commissioners have broad powers to regulate such locals’ gaming establishments.
Dotty’s and its sister company Jackpot Joanies sued the county in May 2011 after the County Commission required them and similar small businesses with gaming to build bars with at least eight embedded slot machines to ensure that gaming was an incidental part of the business model as opposed to being the key revenue driver.
Commissioners and state gaming regulators had fielded complaints about Dotty’s business model from Las Vegas locals’ casinos, which asserted Dotty’s was competing unfairly by not making the required investments in bars and kitchens like traditional gaming taverns.
Dotty’s, however, said it was filling a market niche preferred by women who liked its standalone gaming machines being clustered together in a living room-like atmosphere.
In its lawsuit, Dotty’s said its due process rights were violated because it had a property interest in its county gaming licenses and the new rules amounted to a ''back-door revocation'' of those licenses.
U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson rejected that argument in an order filed Friday, saying the county had not acted to restrict, remove or suspend those licenses.
"The county has a legitimate interest in promulgating ordinances that facilitate the proper use of gaming licenses. Regulations aimed at preventing misuse of restricted licenses and closing loopholes in licenses that provide only for 'incidental' gaming are well within the county’s purview," Dawson wrote in his order. "The county also has an interest in requiring that businesses with the privilege of holding a gaming license provide employment, services and amenities to the community. The court will not second guess the county’s determination that taverns operating under limited gaming licenses should comply with certain physical requirements, including having eight bar-top gaming devices, to enhance public welfare."
Dawson in his order said that Dotty’s attorneys, perhaps anticipating his ruling, had sought permission to file a new amended complaint. He gave them three weeks to do so.
A Dotty’s spokesman said the company was reviewing the ruling and had no immediate comment.
In pursuing their lawsuit last year, Dotty's attorneys noted the company had 21 taverns in Clark County alone.
''This was not an ordinance intended for general application or to cure a widespread problem,'' they complained of the new Clark County rules. ''It was targeted and engineered for the singular, overt, and illegal purpose of squelching a successful small business that the county’s well-heeled, big gaming constituents want to pillage of its loyal, slot-playing customers.''
Dotty’s separately in February voluntarily dismissed a similar lawsuit against the Nevada Gaming Commission over its rules regulating its business. The suit was dismissed for undisclosed reasons.
Dotty’s lately, with a new attorney, has been appearing before the Gaming Commission and the state Gaming Control Board and appears to be working to improve its working relationship with state casino regulators.