New Year, New Trends In Gaming


(AP Photo/John Locher)

Revelers watch at Drai's nightclub as fireworks explode on the Las Vegas Strip during a New Year's celebration Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Las Vegas.

A new year means new developments in Nevada's gaming industry. 

And perhaps one of the biggest developments in the gaming industry happened this week, when newly sworn-in Governor Steve Sisolak appointed Sandra Douglass Morgan as the new head of the Gaming Control Board.

Morgan is taking over for Becky Harris.

Howard Stutz with CDC Gaming Reports told State of Nevada Morgan has experience with gaming regulation because she has been on the Gaming Commission.

"I've watched her. I've seen her in commission meetings in the last year," he said. "She's very knowledgeable […] I think she's going to do a good job."

Morgan is the first African American to serve as chair of the control board and only the second woman.

One of the biggest topics gaming regulators had to discuss last year was sexual harassment, especially in light of the allegations leveled against Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn.

Both Stutz and U.S. editor for GamblingCompliance Chris Sieroty believe both the control board and the gaming commission, which has yet to act on recommendations from the control board about sexual harassment, will address it.

However, Sieroty says it is unlikely to be a top priority.

"Sexual harassment is going to be a topic they're going to deal with, but I think it will be down the list because, as Howard says, something always comes up," Sieroty said.

Support comes from

While Governor Sisloak announced a new head of the Gaming Control Board, the man he replaced, former Gov. Brian Sandoval, landed a new job.

MGM Resorts International announced it had hired Sandoval as president of global gaming development.

Sieroty said MGM Resorts tapped Sandoval to be their main lobbyist in Japan as U.S. gaming companies make a push to build resorts in that country.

"In August, he led a trade delegation to Japan," Sieroty said. "He's known there. They talked gaming when he was there. I think it's a smart move on behalf of MGM."

Stutz agrees, and he believes it is a smart move for Sandoval because it quashes any talk of him running for office again -- at least for a while.

One of the biggest stories in gaming last year is likely to continue to be important in 2019: the spread of sports betting.

A decision by the Supreme Court allowed states to decide whether to allow sports betting; so far, six states have allowed licensing and several more are looking at it.

Some people were concerned that the expansion would somehow hurt Las Vegas. Both Sieroty and Stutz think it won't damage the city's bottom line.

"When you look at Vegas and you look at Nevada's numbers, sports betting is an amenity," Stutz said. "It's a large amenity […] almost $5 billion was wagered on sports betting last year."

He said other states are discovering that sports betting isn't the main draw but an important add-on to already successful gaming operations.

Plus, Sieroty points out no one is clamoring to go to Atlantic City to see the Super Bowl or March Madness.

"They want to go to Vegas. It's an experience in Vegas," he said.

And to add to the experience of coming to Las Vegas is the first ground-up construction of a resort in downtown Las Vegas in almost 40 years.

On Thursday, Derek Stevens, the co-owner of the D Las Vegas, announced the long-awaited details of the project that is taking the place of the old Las Vegas Club.

"If the images are exactly what he ends up building, it's going to be spectacular," Stutz said.

The resort will be called Circa, and it will feature a stadium-style sports book, multi-tiered pool amphitheater, a two-level casino and the longest bar running along Fremont Street.

Renderings: Steelman Partners


Howard Stutz, executive editor, CDC Gaming Reports; Chris Sieroty, U.S. editor, GamblingCompliance

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KNPR's State of Nevada