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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz
 

Mulroy voted on Wynn matter before joining company's board

21 October 2015

Former Nevada Gaming Commission member Pat Mulroy voted favorably on a matter involving Wynn Resorts Ltd., in August, two months before she was elected to the casino company's board following a favorable Ethics Commission opinion that allowed her to avoid the state's one-year cooling off period for casino regulators.

Mulroy voted with the other four Gaming Commission members to approve a technical language change in Wynn Resorts' orders of registration which cover the company's Las Vegas properties and a planned hotel-casino in Massachusetts.

The vote was part of one 17 consent items in which the commission didn't discuss the issue publicly and simply accepted the recommendation of the Gaming Control Board.

Eleven days after the Gaming Commission meeting, Mulroy asked the Nevada Commission on Ethics for an opinion on joining the Wynn board.

The one-year cooling off period, spelled out in state law, prohibits a former Nevada gaming regulator from accepting employment with a licensed gaming company until 12 months after they have left office. Mulroy was appointed to the Gaming Commission in July 2014 by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

In her request for an Ethics Commission opinion, Mulroy said during her 14 months on the regulatory panel, Wynn Resorts "has not appeared on a Gaming Commission agenda for a major licensing or disciplinary matters." She did not have access to "proprietary, confidential or sensitive information" about Wynn Resorts.

Mulroy's attorney, Peter Bernhard, said Tuesday the August item was "not a controversial matter. It was the cleaning up of some language without any examination by the commission."

Bernhard said last week the Ethics Commission voted 4-2 to allow Mulroy to avoid the cooling-off period. The opinion has not been published.

In an e-mail, Ethics Commission Executive Director Yvonne M. Nevarez-Goodson said the members "provided a limited and specific waiver to the cooling-off restrictions."

Nevarez-Goodson said the Ethics Commission members were aware of the August vote and Mulroy "did not obtain proprietary information of Wynn Resorts' competitors" during her tenure.

"Ms. Mulroy has only served on the Gaming Commission for a little over a year, and the Gaming Commission agendas showed that she has not been asked to decide matters that would reveal substantive proprietary information about Wynn Resorts or its competitors," Nevarez-Goodson said.

In her request for an opinion, Mulroy agreed to be "walled off" from any gaming matters involving Wynn Resorts in Nevada after taking a seat on the casino company's board. She will also avoid any issues that Wynn Resorts would have with the Gaming Commission.

"The record before the Commission reflected that Ms. Mulroy had not used her public position in any way to seek or secure an opportunity from Wynn Resorts," Nevarez-Goodson said.

Mulroy, the former Southern Nevada Water Authority chief, spent 30 years in regional government. In a statement, Wynn Resorts said it expects to rely on her expertise on water issues.

Her appointment gives Wynn Resorts a lone female board member. Former Wynn board member Elaine Wynn complained about the panel being all-male during an unsuccessful proxy fight in April.

As a part-time Gaming Commission member, Mulroy was paid $40,000 per year. As a Wynn board member, she will "participate in the standard compensation arrangements for the company's non-employee directors," according a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Last year, the seven Wynn board members averaged more than $349,000 in compensation.