Lawyer’s astute show of acumen

Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Pete Bernhard is universally considered one of the best attorneys in the state.

But on one of the most controversial matters to come before the regulatory panel in years, it took a physician to diagnose and devise a treatment for the problem.

The 4-1 commission vote last week amended State Gaming Regulation 3.015, adding a new definition for taverns while listing criteria needed for a business to operate up to 15 slot machines.

In reality, the vote was all about killing off the Dotty’s Gaming & Spirits business model. The company, which has developed more than 60 locations since 1995, was accused of operating slot machine parlors masquerading as taverns.

Bernhard was the lone vote against the changes, making impassioned arguments that the regulation wasn’t broken. The majority favored new rules suggested by panelist Tony Alamo Jr., a Henderson doctor whose father is a retired Strip casino executive.

Time will tell whether Bernhard’s assessment, that the commission used a sledgehammer to kill ants, will be shared by judges who might overturn the decision.

Dotty’s, which filed a federal lawsuit against Clark County when the county commission passed stringent changes in its tavern ordinance in April, will look at legal remedies.

Bernhard, who has been commission chairman since 2001 and who was appointed in April to a new four-year term by Gov. Brian Sandoval, took steps to protect the commission against a potential lawsuit.

He spent several minutes toward the end of Thursday’s seven-hour hearing to clear up “housekeeping matters.” He placed into the record transcripts from numerous public meetings and listed the opportunities Dotty’s proponents had to voice their opposition to the regulation changes.

He knew he was going to be on the losing end of the vote, but Bernhard showed his responsibility to the public as well as his legal acumen.

“I think these are important issues from a business perspective and a lot of businesspeople looked at this as their lifeblood,” Bernhard said following the hearing. “They are really concerned about their future. It’s important as we consider all these activities.”

Thursday’s debate, often contentious and vitriolic, was an open window into the minutiae of the gaming regulatory process. Alamo’s revisions, crafted with the help of the attorney general’s office, took into account proposals from the Nevada Resort Association, the Nevada Tavern Operators Association and the Gaming Control Board.

The hearing included a lengthy and heated legal debate between Bernhard and resort association attorney Todd Bice. Last month, Bernhard eviscerated Station Casinos Executive Vice President Scott Nielson during a public hearing when the gaming official said the company wanted Dotty’s out because of competition.

Bice was ready for Bernhard. He argued the commission allowed Dotty’s “to get through the fence of regulation” starting in 1995. Dotty’s also spawned knockoffs, such as Jackpot Joanies and Molly’s and Miz Lola’s, which copied the business model.

The resort association wanted it stopped.

“It’s time to fix the fence,” Bice said.

Yes, big gaming, i.e., the resort association, got what it wanted; an end to the Dotty’s business model for new restricted locations and an order that gives Dotty’s operators two years to make retroactive changes to their places.

Only Bernhard and the resort association folks know whether there is any bad blood remaining between the parties. In April, the resort association suggested Bernhard shouldn’t take part in the regulation 3.015 debate because the law firm where he is of counsel represented Dotty’s in front of Clark County. Bernhard’s feelings were clearly hurt by the suggestion.

When he realized the final decision was inevitable, Bernhard offered to back a proposal offered by the control board, which was scaled down from Alamo’s. He was hoping for a 5-0 vote that might fend off future legal action.

However, Alamo said the control board’s proposal didn’t meet his goal of eliminating the Dotty’s business model.

Even though he expressed concern that the new rules could discourage economic growth, Bernhard said the commission would press ahead.

“All we can do is go forward with our best judgment,” he said.

Howard Stutz’s Inside Gaming column appears Sundays. He can be reached at or 702-477-3871. He blogs at Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

Happie Home Startup Establishing Headquarters In Las Vegas
Digital companion startup company Happie Home is establishing its headquarters in Las Vegas after receiving tax abatements from the Governor's Office of Economic Development on Nov. 15. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center will showcase 13 small businesses in November and December and seven in January. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
T-Mobile uses ticketing data to plan for event
T-Mobile Executive Director of Arena Operations explains how ticket sales data and demographics help plan staffing, vendors, parking and operations for an event.
Costco opens its doors in southwest Henderson
Costco has opened its fifth Las Vegas-area location near the intersection of St. Rose Parkway and Amigo Street. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas strip mall and office park
The Krausz Cos. and WG Group bought a strip mall and an office park in Las Vegas for nearly $80 million total. They acquired a portion of Tropicana Beltway Center in the southwest valley for $59 million. They also acquired the Westbay office complex in the Las Vegas Medical District. The buyers are former owners of The Gramercy, a once-mothballed mixed-use project in the Las Vegas suburbs. They sold The Gramercy in phases for more than $100 million.
Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry
Celebrity tattoo artist and business owner Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry at The World of Tattoo industry trade show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
$7.5M Las Vegas pot dispensary opens near Las Vegas Strip
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. It has entertainment including an interactive floor and floating orbs. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars CEO to step down next year
Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Mark Frissora will leave the casino company in February. Frissora has been CEO since July 2015. He was named CEO right after Caesars' operating company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Caesars Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy protection in October 2017 Before Caesars, Frissora spent seven years as chairman and CEO of Naples, Fla.,-based Hertz He led the consolidation of the rental-car industry through Hertz‘s acquisition of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
Planet 13 in Las Vegas adds twist to marijuana dispensary look
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. The dispensary is located near the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, near Trump International, in Las Vegas. Planet 13 has plans in the future for a coffee shop, a tasting room for marijuana-infused beer and wine, a lounge for consuming marijuana on site if that is legalized and space for food.
Caesars Entertainment opening 2 resorts in Dubai
Cove Beach will open on Meraas’ Bluewaters Island in Dubai in November and Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai will open in December. (Caesars Entertainment)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like