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Howard Stutz

Gaming Control Board: Guinn picks aide for gaming post

22 November 2006

NEVADA -- Keith Munro, chief of staff to Gov. Kenny Guinn, was appointed Tuesday by his current boss to a position on the Gaming Control Board, the first time in almost 30 years the three-member panel's designated law enforcement position is not being filled by either a former police officer or an ex-federal agent.

Munro, 41, who has worked in the governor's office since 2000, spent seven years in the Nevada attorney general's office, working primarily in the death penalty appellate division. Munro was also a litigator for the attorney general before joining Guinn as general counsel.

His four-year term on the control board begins Jan. 1.

"I'm a career public servant and I saw this position as a way of continuing to serve and work on issues important to the state," said Munro, who is replacing Control Board member Bobby Siller, a former FBI special agent, who did not seek reappointment.

Munro joins Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander, who was reappointed by Guinn Tuesday to a new four-year term, and Control Board member Mark Clayton, in giving the panel three attorneys.

Guinn said his staff double-checked the Nevada gaming statutes "several times over" to make sure he was within the law in appointing Munro.

"Keith is definitely qualified under the law enforcement position," Guinn said. "Obviously, I've gotten to know Keith and he knows a lot about the gaming industry and the issues the state is facing. He's a hard worker and the type of person we need in this position."

The Gaming Control Board was established in 1959 under Gov. Grant Sawyer and spells out the panel's makeup to include both a certified public accountant and a law enforcement professional. The chairman is expected to have public administration experience.

Neither Neilander nor Clayton are accountants, but both at one time headed the agency's corporate securities division. Clayton was also general counsel for several publicly traded gaming companies.

"Mark and I both qualify as gaming law experts and (have) knowledge of corporate finance," Neilander said.

In the 1960s, gaming enforcement was tasked with keeping elements of organized crime out of the operation of Nevada casinos.

Las Vegas gaming attorney Bob Faiss of Lionel, Sawyer and Collins, who helped Sawyer implement Nevada's gaming regulatory structure, said putting someone with law enforcement experience on the panel is important, but it may not have the same priority today as it did nearly 50 years ago.

"Underworld influence no longer is a major threat to gaming control," Faiss said. "The modern gaming control system was chiefly directed at getting any underworld influence out of our gaming industry and keeping it out."

Neilander said the issues the panel takes up today are typically complex ownership transactions, corporate matters that fall under the rules of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and financing for the state's multibillion-dollar industry.

"The issues involving the industry's capital structure and corporate finance are different now," Neilander said. "We still have within the enforcement division very seasoned law enforcement professionals ... "

Munro said he dealt with corporate finances in helping Guinn set the state budgets in past legislative sessions. He has also had a working relationship with Neilander.

"This is a very important state panel and it's the responsibility of the board that our business be conducted in an open and honest fashion," Munro said.

Munro will earn $125,112 annually in the position. Neilander's annual salary is $134,554.

Gaming Control Board: Guinn picks aide for gaming post is republished from