Advice on picking next NGCB Chairman

Advice on picking next NGCB Chairman

December 19, 2017 3:00 AM


As was reported last week, the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board has tendered his resignation to be effective the end of this week. This has created an interesting test for Gov. Brian Sandoval as he enters his final year in office. Will he make a selection for the good of the state, the good of his friendship or to poke his likely successor in their political eyes?

My career in the gaming industry has allowed me to have interactions with most of Nevada’s Board and Commission members from the late 60’s to current times as well as regulators from many domestic and international jurisdictions. In that time I have learned regulators generally fall into one of the following categories:

1). Type A personalities who are out to catch bad guys real or imagined. These folk are the worst to deal with as they usually fall into the trap of believing the “ends justify the means” or becoming dictatorial in their conduct.

2). Legitimate public servants who are singularly interested in doing whatever would be in the best interest of the state. These folk are usually the best to deal with as they are inclined to be open minded, never arrogant, assumptive or presupposing.

3). Career builders who are out to use their regulatory position to seek higher public office or to maximize their personal commercial opportunities once they leave their regulatory role. In general these folk can be challenging as they frequently shift positions in the direction of whichever way the winds of opportunity are blowing.

It is no secret current Board member Shawn Reid (no relation to Senator Harry Reid) is a longtime friend of Sandoval and the governor could take the easy way out, making him chairman. Not many people would question that decision as Reid has been on the Board a long time and would seem a likely successor. Plus it would only last a year and give Sandoval’s friend a wage boost that would add a few extra dollars to his retirement package.

Reid is a nice guy and would likely fit in category two above but with all due respect is probably not the best person for the job in today’s technology and accounting centric gaming industry. If this were the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s when organized crime was still a real problem Reid would be the right guy, but while there are still bad guys out there the real issues affecting the gaming industry are more about technology and accounting than enforcement.

It is rumored Reid may resign before year end. I for one hope not, as he is a genuinely good man.

The governor could score diversity points for his future political ambitions and appoint member Terry Johnson as chairman. However, that appointment, other than political optics, would bring nothing new to the table and merely set up the next governor who takes office in 2019 to look like a bigot if he/she does not re-appoint then-Chairman Johnson.

While Johnson is known to march to his own beat, in this writer’s opinion, unchecked with his strong personality he might become a category one from above rather than a category two.

It is my belief the best talent set for the one-year position as chairman should be either a recognized technology pro or a retired CFO/CPA. Technology is ever changing and while the Board has made some improvements to recognize technology advancement, those changes were usually stimulated by the legislature or industry.

So, in this writer’s opinion, it would serve the state and the Board exceptionally well if Sandoval would appoint someone like Joe Bertolone as the new interim chairman. Bertolone has a long history in technology, has headed the Board’s Gaming Lab in the past, and since leaving the Board held many technology centric leadership positions in the gaming industry.

Alternatively, it would equally serve the state and Board very well if the governor were to appoint someone like Pat Thorne. He is a well-respected recently retired CPA who has served as the CFO for a number of gaming properties and has also been the gaming partner in firms that audited even more gaming companies. His wisdom and operational experience could bolster the audit section of the Board and perhaps greatly simplify what have become almost oppressively costly internal control requirements on gaming licensees.

While I do not know if either gentleman would be interested, the point in referencing them is to suggest to Gov. Sandoval the type of talented people that are out there and who could bring the practical skills and perspectives of the gaming industry into the regulatory world rather than again selecting another career bureaucrat.