For Gibson, Lipparelli opportunity knocks

December 23, 2014 3:09 AM


Mark Lipparelli, a former Gaming Control Board chairman heard the sound of opportunity a few weeks ago when he got a call asking how he would like to be a state senator replacing Mark Hutchison who was elected lieutenant governor in November. It is always good to be prepared for the sound of opportunity banging on the door. The recent experiences of Las Vegas men J. Brin Gibson and Mark Lipparelli make that point nicely.

Let’s begin with Gibson. Keep an eye on him. The Lionel Sawyer attorney was recruited to become the deputy attorney general for gaming matters on new AG-elect Adam Laxalt’s staff.

Don’t expect him to settle there for long.

Gibson may have taken the first step toward what some observers believe will eventually be a run for public office. When is the last time we saw an attorney leave a big law firm such as Lionel for a job in the public sector? It usually works the other way around.

Gibson is said to have had few if any personal gaming clients but did work closely with the late Bob Faiss, the head of Lionel’s gaming department on issues related to increasing globalization. He helped lobby critical issues during recent legislative sessions.

Faiss may not have invented the concept of gaming law, but he was in the room when it happened, so to speak, and Gibson has been close to him.

“I would not be surprised to see him running for governor someday.” That was the speculation of a source outside Lionel Sawyer who was making the point that Gibson has been nicely positioned to prepare himself for a busy future in politics.

There are all kinds of hurdles to be crossed in a decision to run for a major office, but a possible future appointment to the Gaming Control Board appears to be well within his reach. There is extensive precedent for Board staffers stepping up to one of three slots on the Board.

Lipparelli, a former Gaming Control Board chairman heard the sound of opportunity a few weeks ago when he got a call asking how he would like to be a state senator replacing Mark Hutchison who was elected lieutenant governor in November.


Lipparelli could spot the opportunity and accepted the appointment by the County Commission to fill the remainder of Hutchison’s term. It’s a good bet his experience with issues such as Internet gaming and how to best prepare the state to manage its possibilities will give him an audience of interested listeners as lawmakers get to work early next year.

The gaming industry’s future will lean heavily on its response to new technology and the heightened interest of federal investigators who never tire of trying to push their way into the gaming industry. Lipparelli has been much involved in consulting work with the myriad interests looking for an opportunity to exploit Internet possibilities.

There was a time when Nevada was the unquestioned center of important thinking about commercial gaming. That’s no longer the case as gaming’s spread continues and other states strive to get themselves a piece of the action that once made Nevada so unique. Lipparelli’s presence among Nevada policymakers is one of many helpful possibilities.

Caesars’ debt

The financial woes of Caesars Entertainment continue to get a lot of attention and that is not likely to change in the new year as its operating unit remains headed for a bankruptcy filing.

The goal: to reduce its mountainous debt.

All the bad news associated with a debt load of some $22 billion has over-shadowed a continuing strong performance by Caesars Growth Partners, the subsidiary managing interactive and social gaming programs.

Yes, there is some good news in Caesars, particularly as it concerns the social and Internet gaming business.

CGP CEO Mitch Garber turned the spotlight toward these successes during a recent conversation with analysts.

“We can see a number of growth opportunities across the business,” he said. “They include greater expansion in organic growth of our social and our mobile games portfolio.”

Garber also sees the potential for further development of the company’s real money online gaming business through legislation in additional states. This effort will be coupled with additional investments in the major gaming properties in the destination markets to enhance operating performance and improve returns.

His optimism may be warranted in light of Congress’s recent refusal to get serious about the ban on Internet gaming, an action that Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson has been pushing.

Adelson has thrown a lot of money at this issue in a number of jurisdictions during the last year. He seems to have slowed the efforts of a number of interests to have Congress approve federal legislation applicable to online gaming in participating states. His well-financed friends could not get the push for a permanent ban on all Internet gaming in the form of a revitalized wire act across the finish line.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. He can be reached at

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