Gaming Control Board's new members get right to work


It took less than 20 minutes for the newly empaneled Gaming Control Board to get through the first three items on its 26-item nonrestricted agenda Wednesday morning.

The three members know the harder decisions are months down the road.

Longtime gaming industry observers are comfortable with the three-member control board's new makeup. Chairman Mark Lipparelli and members A.G. Burnett and Shawn Reid, who were selected by Gov. Brian Sandoval last month, have more than three decades of experience combined in gaming regulation.

Lipparelli spent the past two years as a control board member while Burnett and Reid were both appointed from within the agency's ranks.

Gaming attorney Bob Faiss of Lionel Sawyer & Collins said control board members coming from inside the agency gain a much quicker grasp of regulatory issues and nuances than individuals appointed from the public sector.

"That's not to say we haven't had some excellent women and men on the board who have come from the gaming industry," Faiss said. "The difference is that it might take them a year or two to gain that regulatory experience level."

United Coin Machine Vice President of Regulatory Compliance Rob Woodson has been representing the slot machine route operator in front of the control board since the 1980s. He said change is always good for the board, which is the state's full-time enforcement and investigative agency for gaming.

"All three, at one time or another, have worked for the control board in some capacity," Woodson. "I think that makes for a good transition."

Lipparelli, 45, began his gaming career as a securities and research analyst for the agency in 1988. He spent 16 years in the gaming equipment manufacturing sector before his appointment in 2009. He's only the fourth control board chairman in the past two decades. He follows Dennis Neilander, who didn't seek reappointment after 10 years as chairman. Steve DuCharme spent two years as chairman following Bill Bible, who served as chairman for nine years.

Burnett, 41, an attorney, worked as senior deputy attorney general in the gaming division and has been deputy chief of the control board's corporate securities division. Reid, who was the control board chief of investigations, has been with the agency since 1990.

"Mark will bring his own style as chairman," said Brian Duffrin, executive secretary for both the control board and Nevada Gaming Commission. "I think the fact they all know each other and have worked together bodes well for the agency."

Both Burnett and Reid don't expect many changes in the board's current policy's operations. Reid worked closely with former board member Randall Sayre, who warned the industry in 2009 that it needed to pay closer attention to the operations of nightclubs and adult pools and police illegal activity.

The board is expected to rule on matters that include Station Casinos' bankruptcy reorganization, Caesars Entertainment's business relationship with an online gaming company in Europe, and Penn National Gaming's acquisition of M Resort's debt.

Burnett said he expects the board will have to take up Internet gaming issues at some point in his four-year term.

The control board makes recommendations on matters to the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Faiss, who authored an oral history book on Nevada gaming regulation on the 50th anniversary of the commission's establishment, said Gov. Grant Sawyer, in creating the regulatory structure, wanted to take politics out of the regulatory process. He said Sandoval's appointments signaled that direction.

Woodson agreed that politics didn't seem apparent in the current appointments.

Lipparelli opened Wednesday's meeting by introducing Burnett and Reid. He also commended the service of Neilander and Sayre.

"They dedicated a long number of years to the state," Lipparelli said. "We occasionally disagreed, but we disagreed in a respectful way."

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871.

 

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