59°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Former gaming chief says Nevada must lead the way in regulation

Nevada must continue to support a strong regulatory environment for the gaming industry, even as society races into uncharted technological advancements, a former gaming regulator said.

A.G. Burnett, who joined a private law practice in Reno last year after serving as chairman of the state Gaming Control Board from 2012 to 2017, said Nevada must be a leader in gaming regulation because jurisdictions worldwide look to the state and often replicate its expertise in their own regulations.

“Tiny little Nevada did something incredible,” Burnett said Thursday at the annual Robert D. Faiss Lecture on Gaming Law and Policy at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law.

“We exported not just integrated resort gaming to the rest of the world but how gaming is regulated,” he said. “The model that was deemed to be ‘best practices’ in gaming regulation and compliance throughout the world came from none other than right here in the deserts of Las Vegas and the mountains of Carson City in the north.”

‘Tip of the spear’

Burnett said he laughed when a colleague told him that a regulator from another state warned that Nevada didn’t want to become “the tip of the spear” on the touchy issue of daily fantasy sports when it first made overtures to enter the Nevada market.

In 2015, a nationwide debate raged as to whether fantasy sports was a contest requiring skill, like poker, or whether it involved chance and therefore a gambling game. After consulting with state legal experts, Burnett deemed it gambling in October 2015 and determined that daily fantasy sports operators would be required to be licensed under state sports betting regulations.

Instead of applying for licensure, operators pulled out, even after gearing up to lobby legislators that daily fantasy sports was a game of skill that didn’t need regulation.

In his Thursday presentation, Burnett recalled the “tip-of-the-spear” remark.

“I laughed and I shook my head and said tip of the spear? Tell him we’re not just the tip of the spear. We are the spear,’” he said.

He said he recognized then how much other jurisdictions rely on Nevada’s expertise, even as Macau and Singapore easily race past Nevada in generating gaming revenue.

“When I was chairman, I learned that many regulators around the world look to Nevada for leadership and to set an example on the myriad issues that arise in gaming and the businesses that surround gaming,” he said. “What the regulators do here has a ripple effect. It goes around throughout the world.”

Technological advancements

And for that reason, Burnett said, Nevada has to be ready for the fast-paced change the industry is seeing in technology and must stay ahead of it. He said he would often tell colleagues that Nevada “can’t just be looking down the road, but looking down the road and around the corner” for what issues are coming next.

“The gamer of the 2020s and beyond will one day be more integrated into their own devices, even potentially having computing, probably within a decade, being quantum-based, embedded within their physical bodies. This is all coming and we have to think about this,” he said.

And, unless regulative enforcement is prepared, new opportunities for cheating will emerge.

“Regulators must be given the budgets and manpower to keep up,” he said. “Regulators must also be given not just broad authority to regulate in technologies, but the mandates to embrace them in a careful, cognizant, responsible way that still calls for strict regulation over the mindset toward enhancing gaming.

“Also, the enforcement side of regulation must always be carried forward because as new technological interfaces for gaming arise and enter the marketplace, new ways to cheat and scam the system will as well,” he said. “Investigators on the Gaming Control Board must be on the cutting edge of investigative technologies.”

Marijuana issues

Other social issues are bound to enter the regulatory realm, he said, but one of those that has been in the spotlight — the integration of marijuana sales and the gaming industry — has been easy to process.

Control Board policy since voter approval of recreational marijuana use in Nevada has been to keep the industries separate. The reason: Marijuana has been deemed an illegal controlled substance by the federal government. As long as the feds maintain that stance, gaming regulators hold the view that ownership roles in gaming and marijuana can’t cross.

Burnett said Nevada had the opportunity for advice from a state — Colorado — that already had gaming before legalized recreational marijuana.

Burnett said when he asked a Colorado regulator what the state was going to do about its stance, he replied, “I don’t know. What are you guys going to do about it?”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Lucky Dragon’s foreign investors demand refund

The Lucky Dragon’s developers and prior management are facing lawsuits from Chinese investors, the project’s main lender and a Canadian high-roller who paid a $400,000 deposit to lease the casino just one month before it abruptly closed.