What kind of paperwork do I have to file to go to work in a casino?
How bad do I have to be to be listed in Nevada’s “black book?”
And what the heck is the “gray list?”
Those are some of the questions answered in the new edition of the “Nevada Gaming Law Practice and Procedure Manual,” unveiled last month in a reception during a gaming law conference at UNLV.
Greg Giordano, a gaming attorney with the McDonald Carano Wilson law firm, was the chief editor for the book, published by the State Bar of Nevada Publications Department and The Gaming Law Section of the State Bar of Nevada, but the 19 authors are an all-star team of practicing gaming lawyers.
Giordano and co-editors Mark Lerner and Jeffrey Rodefer compiled the 18-chapter reference to help explain Nevada’s complex regulatory world that is acknowledged as the best on the planet.
It should come as no surprise that the preface to the book was written by Gov. Brian Sandoval, once the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission. He also served as the state’s attorney general, making him the overseer of the prosecution of all complaints brought by the Gaming Control Board against licensees who run afoul of the rules.
“Nevada was the first state in the nation to formally legalize casino gaming,” Sandoval said in the preface.
“We are also the first state to adopt a modern gaming regulatory system. Over the past 60 years, Nevada’s regulatory system has constantly evolved, addressing new issues and new technologies as they have emerged,” he said.
“Nevada has always been the epicenter for global gaming entertainment, regulation and innovation, and the gaming industry continues to be a critical component of our state’s economic success.”
Giordano said that rapid evolution of technology Sandoval referenced is one of the reasons the manual needs to be updated so often.
But there are many issues and topics that have been on the books since the early days of state gaming regulation and some of them fascinate the public. I asked Giordano to pick out some of the topics that draw public interest or are generally misunderstood by the public.
One of the ways gaming regulation touches the public is in the area of licensing. The manual’s Chapter 7, written by Louis Csoka, a founding partner of Barnett Csoka, focuses on the licensing of officers, directors and “key employees.”
The agendas of the Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission are filled every month with licensing matters. One of the common courtesies of the process is for attorneys representing the licensing applicant to thank the investigators that conducted the background checks leading to the board action.
Every once in a while, an applicant will remark how the investigations conducted by Control Board agents are the most excruciatingly detailed experiences they’ve ever been through.
Did you ever get busted for smoking pot when you were in high school? The agents will find it. Did you cheat on your tax filing and get caught? They’ll know. Ever get picked up for DUI? Don’t even think about trying to hide it.
Regulators probe because they want the industry to be above reproach and sometimes that means delving into an individual’s indiscretions, no matter how old.
Officers and directors of privately held gaming corporations are licensed as “key employees.” In publicly traded gaming corporations, certain directors and officers receive a finding of suitability.
“As a matter of public policy, Nevada gaming regulators have always been concerned that, beyond the top echelon of officers, directors and executives of a gaming company, the company’s line employees who are involved in gaming work must also at least be subject to a criminal background check,” the text says.
Up until 2003, gaming employees — defined as accountants, boxpersons, cashiers, change personnel, counting room personnel, dealers, floorpersons, hosts, keno runners, keno writers, machine mechanics, oddsmakers and line-setters, security personnel, shift or pit bosses, supervisors or managers and ticket-writers — were required to get a work card or a sheriff’s card indicating that they had undergone the criminal background check.
But the responsibility to check backgrounds shifted to the Control Board because sheriff’s cards weren’t as portable to workers moving from city to city.
Restricted licenses cost an applicant $700, covering the application fee and the cost of the investigation. For nonrestricted license applicants, the big guys, the cost is $500, but the applicant also has to cover all costs of the investigation. There are eight different forms to fill out in the application process.
Not surprisingly, the manual suggests that applicants hire an attorney to accompany them on the registration journey.
Another aspect of regulation is the establishment of the state’s Excluded Persons List, also known as the “black book.”
The “book,” posted on the Gaming Control Board’s website, includes the scary pictures and names of 31 men and one woman currently on the list. To get there, one has to be convicted of a felony in Nevada or a crime involving moral turpitude or a violation of any gaming laws or have a “notorious or unsavory reputation that would adversely affect public confidence and trust that the gaming industry is free from criminal or corruptive elements.”
Don’t confuse the “black book” with the “gray list.” That’s the list of gaming applicants who have had a license denied or revoked or who have been found unsuitable by the commission. There are about 130 individuals currently on the list.
“The consequences of being on the gray list are severe,” the manual says. “Generally speaking, a gaming licensee cannot do business with anyone on the list even when the business is not related to gaming.”
Giordano said it’s possible the Excluded Persons List could grow in the future if policymakers agree to include people who cause trouble in casinos — people who commit nuisance crimes like racing through and grabbing chips from a table.
If that happens, count on another chapter revision in a future edition.
Contact Richard N. Velotta at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.