Sandra Douglass Morgan, Chairwoman of Nevada Gaming Control Board: “The Nevada Gaming Control Board’s greatest priority at this time is the safety and security of employees and guests”

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Sandra Douglass Morgan

We are optimistic that the industry will recover, but recovery could take between 12 and 18 months.

 

One of the most important interviews in Casino Inside magazine history you will find below. Mrs. Sandra Douglass Morgan, Chairwoman of Nevada Gaming Control Board gave us an interview about the situation of the gambling industry from State of Nevada. Please read in the next pages what was the impact of lockdown on the gambling industry in Nevada, how was the received by customers was the reopening of the gambling industry from June 4th, what are the losses recorded by the gambling industry during the period when the operators were forced to close and many other things.

 

On June 4th, gambling reopened in Nevada, please tell us what were the measures that gambling operators had to comply regarding the protection of people / players visiting gambling establishments in your state?

 

The links below direct you to the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s Industry Notices which include the health and safety policies for reopening. The purpose of the Policies is to give gaming licensees notice as to what is expected of them when they reopen. These Policies have been reviewed by the Southern Nevada Health District, the Washoe County Health District, and by an infectious disease physician at UMC.

 

https://gaming.nv.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=16731

 

https://gaming.nv.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=16833

 

https://gaming.nv.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=16730

 How was the reopening of the gambling industry received by customers? Can you give us some figures regarding the number of people who have chosen gambling as a method of entertainment, from the reopening of the industry until now? Are all casinos opened?

 

The Nevada Gaming Control Board will not have June revenue until July.  However, we have heard anecdotally that visitation has been more robust than anticipated and head counts have been encouraging. Additional properties have announced their openings due to increased demand. At this time, the majority (over 90%) of our Nonrestricted locations have opened.

 Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the gambling industry in Nevada had to close its doors for quite a long time, which was the financial impact, the impact on the workforce, the impact on the gambling industry in Nevada in general?

 

The economic implications of this crisis is unprecedented. Nevada’s tourism industry is at risk of losing $39 billion in total economic activity over the next 12 to 18 months. As a result, 320,000 employees relying on $1.3 billion in wages and salary payments each month are also at risk, numbers nearly twice that reported during the peak of the Great Recession.

NEVADA GAMING CONTROL BOARD

 Is there a possibility to witness the closure / bankruptcy of some companies operating in the field of gambling, in Nevada, due to the current situation?

 

Yes that is a possibility, however at this time, only three Nonrestricted licensees have publicly announced that they are not resuming operations and closing permanently.

 

 Please tell us what is the number of people working in the field of gambling in the state of Nevada? What did they do during the period of time when the games were closed? Was there any form of financial aid to help them get through this difficult period?

 

Nevada’s tourism industry employs 320,000 people directly and when considering direct, indirect (supplier) and induced (employee spending) employment, Nevada’s tourism industry supports more than 430,000 jobs-nearly one out of every three employees statewide. Some companies maintained payrolls and employee health benefits while their businesses are effectively shut down. However, thousands of employees were also furloughed and had to apply for unemployment benefits. As a result the State’s unemployment rated reached 30% in April.  Subsequently, the rate has decreased to 25.3% in May as businesses re-open.

 

What was the fees and taxes that gambling operators pay annually, in a year without major events such as the pandemic we are going through?

During FY2019 the Nevada Gaming Control Board collected $919,517,317 million in gaming taxes and fees for the State’s General Fund.

What are the losses recorded by the gambling industry during the period when the operators were forced to close and how big were the losses at the level of taxes and duties supported by the state?

At this time the exact amount is unknown due to the timing of revenue reporting and tax collections.  However the amount could be estimated which I have provided for you below:

Gaming operations were suspended for 78 days (March 17 – June 3).  We collected $919,517,317 in taxes last year (FY19) for the State’s General Fund. If you were to do and estimated impact by dividing the $919,517,317 million by 365 to obtain a daily amount and multiply that by 78 that amount would be $196 million in lost tax revenue for the State’s General Fund during the closure.

From a gaming revenue standpoint you could do the same if you were to calculate a daily win amount. Last year (FY19) Nonrestricted licensees generate $11,358,424,172 in taxable gaming revenue. A daily amount would be approximately $31.1 million and multiplied by 78 that amount would be $2.4 billion in lost taxable gaming revenue.

Is there a plan of action that the authorities have taken or are they prepared to take to help the casinos and the other companies that are working in the field of gambling?

 

The Federal Government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided needed resources for the COVID-19 public health response and essential support for workers and businesses impacted by the pandemic. This $2 trillion bipartisan package was the largest economic relief package in our nation’s history. Previous federal responses to natural disasters and financial crises explicitly excluded gaming companies from economic assistance available to the broader business community. However, the industry fought to ensure that it was able to access the economic relief on an equal basis with every other industry impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Act provides tax relief to help gaming companies keep workers on the payroll; opened access to critical capital through loans for all industry segments; provides direct economic support for millions of American workers and their families.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board is well suited to handle any bankruptcy related issues that may arise from the Covid-19 crisis. As a result of the 2008 economic recession, a number of Nevada gaming entities filed for Federal bankruptcy protection. To ensure that the Board was in the best possible position to process applications and address other issues, a group comprised of a representative from the Attorney General’s office, and management staff from every Division was created. The group regularly met to discuss each individual case, and ensure that it was readied for Board and Commission review and disposition. If necessary, the group can easily be reformed. As always, regular communication with the Board is critical. Given our history of addressing bankruptcy related matters, the Board will be able to provide guidance on the relevant Regulations and Statutes, and ensure that applications are processed as quickly and efficiently as possible. How do you see the future of the gambling industry, post-pandemic, at global and local gambling industry? Do you think that the world of gambling will return to the normalcy we know, if so when this return happens, or will we have to adapt to a new normality with a series of restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 virus?

 

We are optimistic that the industry will recover, but recovery could take between 12 and 18 months.  Although we are hopeful that the restrictions are not permanent, The Nevada Gaming Control Board’s greatest priority at this time is the safety and security of employees and guests.

 

BIO

Sandra Douglass Morgan is the Chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. She was appointed to this role by Governor Steve Sisolak for a 4 year term from January 28, 2019 to January 28, 2023.

Morgan was previously appointed to the Nevada Gaming Commission by Governor Brian Sandoval in April 2018. While serving as a Commissioner, she was also the Director of External Affairs for AT&T Services, Inc. and was responsible for managing AT&T’s government and community affairs in Nevada. Morgan previously served as the City Attorney for the City of North Las Vegas, and was the first African-American City Attorney in the state of Nevada. Prior to her public service with the City, she served as Litigation Attorney for one of the world’s largest gaming companies.

Morgan has consistently served the southern Nevada community in leadership positions in both professional and service organizations. She previously served as an Athletic Commissioner on the Nevada State Athletic Commission and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates. Additionally, she has held in leadership positions in the Las Vegas chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., The Links, Inc., and Jack and Jill of America, Inc.

In 2017, Morgan received the Corporate to Community Connector award from the National Urban League Young Professionals. Morgan received the “Women in Business and Politics” award from the Urban Chamber of Commerce in 2015 along with the Ladies of Distinction Award in 2013 from Olive Crest, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting abused and neglected children. She received Nevada Business Magazine’s Legal Elite Top 10 Government Attorneys in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, Morgan was also honored as the National Bar Association’s Nation’s Best Advocates “40 under 40” and Attorney of the Year by the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association in 2012.

Morgan is a member of the State Bar of Nevada. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Nevada, Reno and was awarded a Juris Doctor from the William S. Boyd School of Law at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Morgan resides in southern Nevada with her husband and their two children.

Author: Editor

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *