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Gaming Control Board Chairman Lipparelli leaving post

Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli said Tuesday he was resigning as chairman of the state’s three-member regulatory panel at the end of the month to allow a new chairman to be situated well ahead of the 2013 Legislative session.

Lipparelli, 47, could have served until the end December, when his four-year term expires. Instead, with a state budget fight looming, he wanted to give the new chairman time to settle into the job of running the state agency before lawmakers returned to Carson City.

“It was a personal decision,” Lipparelli said. “Once I decided not to serve another term, I thought this would be the best way to go about a smooth transition. If I had waited until Dec. 31, the new chairman could have been in a tough spot with the Legislature bearing down.”

Lipparelli said he informed Gov. Brian Sandoval of his intentions to leave the panel earlier this month. Sandoval, who is on a trade mission to China, is expected to name Lipparelli’s replacement before the October meeting in Carson City.

Many gaming insiders expect Sandoval to promote one of the other two current control board members, A.G. Burnett or Shawn Reid, to the chairman’s position and name a new board member.

Sandoval appointed the entire panel when he took office in January 2011. Lipparelli was a board member for two years, having been appointed to the panel by Gov. Jim Gibbons in 2009.

Burnett was deputy chief of the control board’s corporate securities division and Reid was chief of the investigations division when Sandoval named them to their current positions. Burnett also served as a senior deputy attorney general in the gaming division when Sandoval was attorney general.

In a statement released through his office, Sandoval did not give a timetable for naming a replacement. He praised Lipparelli as “a great advocate” for Nevada.

“Mark’s leadership in pushing to modernize functions of the agency, a continuing priority for me, has helped move Nevada forward and set the groundwork for the next generation of gaming,” Sandoval said.

The Gaming Control Board is the state’s enforcement and investigative agency for the casino industry. The panel makes recommendations on matters to the Nevada Gaming Commission. The three members are full-time state employees. Control board members earn $125,112 annually. The chairman earns $134,554.

Lipparelli joined the control board from the private sector. He held senior-level management positions for 15 years with several gaming industry suppliers and technology companies, including Bally Technologies, Shuffle Master, and Casino Data Systems. He served as a securities analyst and senior research analyst with the control board before venturing into the private sector.

Before joining the control board, Lipparelli was president and CEO of Gioco Ventures LLC, a startup technology company.

Lipparelli’s background in technology and gaming equipment was credited by many with helping Nevada prepare for the move into online gaming. The state adopted regulations covering the operation of online poker within Nevada’s boundaries and regulators began licensing operators and technology providers for interactive gaming.

“I think it’s safe to say that both Chairman Lipparelli and (former Chairman) Dennis Neilander offered their knowledge and ability to help the commission organize and develop a regulatory system for Internet gaming,” Commission Chairman Pete Bernhard said.

Added Sandoval, “His insight and foresight, particularly in the area of online gaming, have been an invaluable asset to my administration and he will be missed.”

Lipparelli pushed for a change that allowed independent testing laboratories to be approved and take over functions for the control board’s equipment testing laboratory.

Under the state’s cooling-off period, Lipparelli is precluded from working for a Nevada licensed gaming company for one year. Lipparelli said he plans to return to the private sector.

“I’ve enjoyed this position,” Lipparelli said. “I guess I’ll be playing offense again in some capacity.”

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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