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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz
 

Attorney for Caesars Tapped as Gaming Regulator

9 February 2005

NEVADA -- Gov. Kenny Guinn reached into the casino industry ranks Tuesday for the newest member of the Gaming Control Board, naming Caesars Entertainment attorney Mark Clayton to the three-member regulatory body.

Clayton, 39, has been vice president of corporate law for Caesars since 2001, with previous experience as the general counsel for Aladdin Gaming Holdings and Showboat.

With Caesars, Clayton has been the chief attorney in advising the company as it prepares to be bought out by Harrah's Entertainment in a $9.4 billion transaction. That role, he said, would be picked up by other Caesars lawyers and outside legal counsel.

Because of his work on the merger, Clayton will have to recuse himself when the control board considers regulatory approval on the matter, which is targeted to close by the end of June.

In addition, Clayton said he also would not participate when the control board considers the $7.9 billion merger between MGM Mirage and Mandalay Resort Group, which is expected to be heard by Nevada regulators prior to the end of March.

"For appearance purposes, I think it's appropriate and fair that I not take part in the MGM Mirage and Mandalay hearing," said Clayton, who added he expressed the same sentiment to the governor when he was interviewed for the position.

Clayton, who was appointed to a four-year term and will earn $113,843 annually, was the control board's chief of corporate securities from 1993 until 1995, a time when publicly traded companies found their way into a rapidly expanding industry as new U.S. jurisdictions opened.

During that two-year period, several gaming companies had initial public offerings while billions of dollars were raised through public capital efforts.

"Back then, we had an IPO explosion. Now, we have consolidation," Clayton said. "This was a unique opportunity that I couldn't pass up. I enjoyed regulatory work, and an opportunity to be involved at a level in the most highly regarded regulatory environment is a tremendous challenge."

Clayton said he brings a varied degree of experiences to the control board. With Aladdin he was involved with the construction and opening of the Strip resort in 2000 and he was part of a merger when Showboat was bought out by Harrah's in the late 1990s. With Caesars, Clayton had dealings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company's board of directors and stockholders, and various development issues.

A third party, said Clayton, had approached Guinn and suggested his name for the position.

"Mark Clayton is one of the state's finest attorneys in the field of gaming law, and he also has previous experience working with the Gaming Control Board, dating back to the 1990s," Guinn said in a statement. "He brings a superior wealth of knowledge to the position, particularly given his extensive knowledge of corporate financial matters. I am very confident he is up to the task, and that he will do an excellent job."

Clayton replaces Scott Scherer, who left the control board last month to join the law firm of Hale Lane in Carson City. Clayton will join the control board Feb. 21, in time for the Nevada Gaming Commission meeting on Feb. 24 in Carson City.