Alamo brings fresh approach

In his first meeting as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, Tony Alamo Jr. turned the Sawyer Building conference room into a doctor’s office.

Alamo, a specialist in internal medicine, is the first nonattorney to head the part-time regulatory panel.

Using a bedside manner similar to how he would address a patient, Alamo attempted to calm the jittery emotions of a restricted gaming license applicant seeking approval for five slot machines in his Las Vegas restaurant.

Two weeks earlier, the Gaming Control Board spent two hours in heated discussion on the application, grilling the 30-year-old applicant over a laundry list of legal matters that were later resolved.

Alamo watched the hearing from the audience. Later, he reviewed the transcripts.

At the commission meeting, the applicant acknowledged he suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“I diagnosed you at the board hearing,” Alamo said, advising the applicant to “relax and take a breath” before answering questions.

The hearing wasn’t intended to be adversarial, although Alamo noted that Gaming Commission hearings can present an “uncomfortable environment” for many individuals.

“I just want to get to the core of a gaming issue,” said Alamo, 50. “As a doctor, I’m going to look at the human side. As a regulator, it will be under the laws, regulations and statutes that govern our industry.”

But, Alamo added, “you can’t take away the fact that I’m a doctor.”

Alamo was first appointed to the Gaming Commission in 2008, by then-Gov. Jim Gibbons. He was elevated to chairman in July by Gov. Brian Sandoval when Las Vegas attorney Peter Bernhard, who was in his 13th year as chairman, decided to step aside.

Bernhard reportedly suggested to Sandoval that Alamo replace him in the $55,000-a-year job heading the five-person panel that meets monthly and makes the final determination on recommendations coming from the full-time Control Board.

Alamo was at one time the Gaming Commission’s only nonlawyer. The current panel has Alamo, two attorneys, Joe Brown and John Moran Jr.; former state Sen. Randolph Townsend; and retired Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager Pat Mulroy.

“I think the commission now reflects the true legislative intent,” Alamo said. “We want a balanced commission. I’m glad we have different personalities and varied skills.”

Before his appointment to the Gaming Commission, Alamo was an eight-year member of the Nevada Athletic Commission, the last two years a chairman.

In 2002, Alamo sided with the majority of the Athletic Commission to deny boxer Mike Tyson a license to fight Lennox Lewis for the heavyweight title. Commissioners were under heavy pressure from the casino industry to sanction the fight, which meant millions of dollars in economic benefits.

Alamo said the same principles he followed as a member of the Athletic Commission govern his actions on the Gaming Commission. His style as chairman will be similar.

“I’m not here to push an agenda,” Alamo said. “I want to work with the industry but within a regulatory environment.”

Alamo grew up in the casino industry, although he never aspired for a career in gaming.

His now-retired father is Tony Alamo Sr., who held executive positions with Circus Circus Enterprises and the Mandalay Resort Group. Alamo Jr. said his father “inspired and pushed him.”

Alamo often mentions his father, a Cuban-born immigrant who worked more than 40 years in the industry, working his way up the ranks to oversee operations of several Strip resorts, including Mandalay Bay, Luxor and Monte Carlo.

“My dad worked swing shifts and holidays most of my life,” the younger Alamo recalled. “Everything he achieved, he worked for.”

A close family friend — an emergency room physician — inspired the son to go into medicine.

As a Bishop Gorman High School student, Alamo would travel with the doctor — who was also a private pilot — to hospitals in rural Nevada. By age 19, Alamo had his pilot’s license.

He graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and then the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Alamo has served as chief of staff at two hospitals — Sunrise Hospital and Children’s Medical Center and St. Rose Dominican Hospital, St. Martin Campus, — and has operated aclinic in Henderson since 1994.

When the doctor was a teenager, gaming revenue drove the Strip. Today, more than 60 percent of Strip resort revenue comes from non-gaming activities, such as nightclubs, restaurants and retail sales.

Alamo points to changes in the gaming industry in just the six years he has been on the Gaming Commission. He said the approval of mobile wagering inside casinos and the launch of real-money online poker in Nevada show that regulators and the industry both must quickly evolve.

“As we forge ahead, we have to be flexible,” Alamo said. “But we’re not going to jeopardize the integrity of the industry.”

Alamo’s closest friends, Las Vegas attorney John Bailey and Kirk Hendrick, general counsel for Ultimate Fighting Championship, surprised him by attending his first Gaming Commission meeting as chairman. His wife, Karen, and his 16-year-old son, Tony Alamo III, also were there.

And quietly watching the proceedings from the back of the hearing room was his dad, looking proud.

“My father is part of everything I’ve ever done,” the new commission chairman said. “He always pushed me to do more.”

Howard Stutz’s Inside Gaming column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow on Twitter: @howardstutz.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Project billed as one of the world's largest marijuana dispensaries plans to open Nov. 1
Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler talks about what to expect from the new marijuana dispensary, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Oasis Biotech opens in Las Vegas
Brock Leach, chief operating officer of Oasis Biotech, discusses the new plant factory at its grand opening on July 18. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Tech Park innovation building breaks ground
Construction on the first innovation building at the UNLV Tech Park is underway. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Forum Meeting Center
Caesars broke ground Monday on its $375 million Caesars Forum Meeting Center (convention center) just east of the High Roller observation wheel. (Caesars Entertainment)
Technology reshapes the pawn shop industry
Devin Battersby attaches a black-colored device to the back of her iPhone and snaps several of the inside and outside of a Louis Vuitton wallet. The device, installed with artificial intelligence capabilities, analyzes the images using a patented microscopic technology. Within a few minutes, Battersby receives an answer on her app. The designer item is authentic.
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Nevada for one year
Exhale Nevada CEO Pete Findley talks about the one year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Young adults aren't saving for retirement
Financial advisors talk about saving trends among young adults. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump’s tariffs could raise costs for real estate developers, analysts say
President Donald Trump made his fortune in real estate, but by slapping tariffs on imports from close allies, developers in Las Vegas and other cities could get hit hard.
Las Vegas business and tariffs
Barry Yost, co-owner of Precision Tube Laser, LLC, places a metal pipe into the TruLaser Tube 5000 laser cutting machine on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like