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NEVADA -- New Gaming Control Board member Randy Sayre had to wait a week to officially claim his seat on the three-member regulatory panel.
But the process in which two governors made separate appointments for the same position that pays $125,112 per year didn't discourage him. Even as political pundits and gaming observers openly debated the matter, Sayre was resolute. His 25-year military career, in which he rose to the top ranks of the Nevada Army National Guard, taught him patience.
"I think in any career, you just do the best you can and take opportunities if they come in your direction," Sayre said Friday. "If you do well for an institution, the institution will reward you."
Sayre, 54, who has been in the investigative division of the control board since 1981, was named to a four-year term on the panel Jan. 4 by Gov. Jim Gibbons. But before leaving office, former Gov. Kenny Guinn named his outgoing chief of staff, Keith Munro, to the spot.
The controversy ended Thursday when Munro became chief of staff to Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.
For Sayre, the resolution meant he had risen to the upper echelon in two careers, gaming regulation and the military. He retired in 2006 after three years as brigadier general for the Nevada Army National Guard, rising from the ranks of second lieutenant.
With the Gaming Control Board, Sayre worked as an investigative agent for seven years, spent a year in the administrative division and returned to investigations as its deputy chief in 1989. A year later, Sayre was appointed chief of the Investigative Division, a role he held until late Thursday. He supervised 80 people in the investigative division.
Last week Gibbons praised Munro but said he thought Sayre was better for the position.
"I just felt the Gaming Control Board needed somebody with the experience of Randall Sayre," Gibbons said.
Gibbons is a former member of the Nevada Air National Guard. Sayre said their National Guard duties caused them to cross paths a few years ago.
"The governor did approach me, but clearly there were a number of people being tossed around for this position," Sayre said.
The dispute over who was entitled to the seat spilled over into this week's monthly control board hearings, causing Chairman Dennis Neilander to ask both Munro and Sayre to stay away from the meeting. Sayre, however, was still involved in various investigative matters on potential gaming licensees.
"No matter what the ultimate conclusion was, I still had a job to do and make sure the board was comfortable with the information we provided them," Sayre said. "Chairman Neilander made a very prudent decision."
The control board, which is the state's enforcement and investigative agency for gaming, makes recommendations on matters to the Nevada Gaming Commission. Its three members are full-time state employees.
Sayre is replacing Bobby Siller, who retired Dec. 31.
With Neilander and board member Mark Clayton, the Gaming Control Board is made up of three members who rose through the ranks of the state agency. Neilander once headed the corporate securities division, Clayton also was in charge of corporate securities, but left the agency to be a general counsel in the private sector. He became a board member last year.
"We've all worked closely together in the past, so I think that bodes well for the agency," Sayre said. "I'm ready to hit the ground running."
Sayre said upcoming issues facing the regulatory body, such as the buyout of publicly traded gaming companies by private equity groups, will challenge regulators. Sayre said the agency has already investigated some private equity transactions, such as Colony Capital's purchase of the Las Vegas Hilton and Oaktree Capital's investment in Cannery Casino Resorts.
"What's interesting about this state and the regulatory process is that it's open to change," Sayre said. "Clearly, we're in an era of dynamic times and while we have to investigate the backgrounds of the fund managers, we have to understand the industry's needs to gain access to capital."
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