A.G. Burnett, the chairman of Nevada’s Gaming Control Board, is to leave his post with effect from December 22 to take up a job with a private-sector law firm, according to a press release posted on the website of the U.S. state’s governor, Brian Sandoval. The news of Mr Burnett’s impending departure had earlier been reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Las Vegas Sun newspapers.
“A replacement for chairman Burnett will be named at a later date,” said the official announcement.
During Mr Burnett’s time in the post, the body has been involved in investigations with direct bearing on the Asia-Pacific portion of what is an increasingly globalised casino industry, including an inquiry into Japanese gaming entrepreneur Kazuo Okada.
The Gaming Control Board, a body created by statute in 1955, is responsible in Nevada for “the stability of the gaming industry through investigations, licensing, and enforcement of laws and regulations,” according to its website. The bulk of the money generated by the state’s casino industry comes from its main gaming hub, Las Vegas.
The Gaming Control Board had clarified to GGRAsia in late June – after news of an investigation into Mr Okada by Universal Entertainment Corp, the Japanese conglomerate he founded, was first made public – that the regulator was “investigating the allegations based on Mr Okada and affiliated companies Aruze USA Inc, Aruze Gaming America Inc, and Universal Entertainment holding various gaming licences in Nevada”. Mr Okada had been accused by Universal Entertainment of “three acts of fraudulence”.
This month it was announced that two units of Japanese entertainment conglomerate Sega Sammy Holdings Inc had been approved as casino gaming machine makers and sellers for the Nevada market with effect from December 1, following hearings by the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission.
Since Mr Burnett was appointed chairman of the Gaming Control Board in 2012, his organisation has also presided over how Nevada’s casino industry has approached issues including demographic change among the casino customer base, and the increasing role or encroachment of online technology into traditional bricks and mortar casinos.
In May 2015, Nevada had passed a legislative bill backed by Nevada’s gambling equipment manufacturers to allow slot machines to add a skill-based, arcade-style element.
Mr Burnett was quoted last year as saying, regarding the state’s approach: “We created the bandwagon, we actually started creating [regulations for hybrid and skill-based games] back in 2005 when we started loosening up a lot of requirements to add elements of skill.”
Since Nevada’s move in 2015, other jurisdictions around the world – including Macau – have reportedly been examining the possible introduction to their markets of so-called skill based games, where typically a percentage of the return to player to be reserved for a skill element.
In July 2016, Paulo Martins Chan, director of Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, had suggested the city’s venues might be able to provide different types of slot machines than currently available, in order to make the mass floors more appealing to customers.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board’s Mr Burnett was quoted saying in the Nevada Governor’s official announcement of his departure: “During my tenure, the Gaming Control Board has handled unprecedented regulatory challenges, effected numerous regulatory and statutory changes to accommodate shifts in technology, and addressed issues such as Internet gaming, nightclub regulation and policy regarding cannabis in connection with gaming.”
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”We need to have stability – especially in terms of legislation, so that it doesn’t change very often. We have several discussions with the authorities and they understand that stability is a must for the development of this industry”
COO for Russian operations at casino investor Summit Ascent