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Richard N. Velotta

Michonne Ascuaga appointed to Nevada Gaming Commission

28 April 2015

A member of a prominent Northern Nevada casino industry family has been appointed to the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Michonne Ascuaga, a former CEO of John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks, was named to the position by Gov. Brian Sandoval Monday, replacing Joe Brown, who on Thursday announced his resignation from the board for personal reasons.

The appointment is effective immediately. She will complete Brown’s four-year term, which ends in April 2017.

Ascuaga is expected to attend her first meeting in her new capacity at the commission’s May 28 meeting in Las Vegas.

“Michonne Ascuaga will bring a depth of experience and understanding of this unique industry to the Nevada Gaming Commission,” Sandoval said. “I am pleased that she has accepted this new role and greatly value her willingness to step into public service at a critical time for the gaming community. I am confident that she will be an effective regulator and important voice on the commission.”

Ascuaga served as CEO of the Sparks property since 1997. She originally started working at age 13 as a front-desk clerk and continued to work her way up staying in the family business until December 2013. Ascuaga, a Reno resident, currently serves as chairwoman of the Washoe K-12 Education Foundation.

“I have worked in gaming all of my life and am honored to be appointed to such a prestigious board,” Ascuaga said in a statement issued by the governor’s office Monday. “As a former licensee for over a decade, I hold a deep respect for the commission and look forward to this new challenge as an industry regulator.”

Her appointment returns some geographic balance to the board. Prior to the appointment, four of the five commissioners were from Southern Nevada with Brown, Pat Mulroy, John Moran Jr. and Chairman Tony Alamo from the south and Randolph Townsend from the north.

Sandoval on Tuesday also reappointed Mulroy to the commission. She initially replaced Peter Bernhard on the five-member board in 2014 and was reappointed to a full four-year term.

“Pat has continued to demonstrate exceptional leadership skills and has served on the board with integrity and stability,” Sandoval said. “She has made an excellent commissioner bringing a unique perspective and appreciation for Nevada’s largest industry.”

Brown served on the commission since 2009 and was most recently reappointed to the board in 2013.

At the end of Thursday’s commission meeting, Brown announced that he would leave the board immediately to devote more time to his law practice and to his family.

“I would like to thank Joe for his service to the state, his experience and expertise will be missed on the commission,” Sandoval said. “Joe brought a wealth of knowledge and served as a fair and thoughtful commissioner as the gaming industry navigated exceptional times.”

It’s the first time since 1998 and the second time ever that two women have served on the commission at the same time. Former Lt. Gov. Sue Wagner was appointed to the position in 1997, joining Deborah Griffin on the board. Griffin left in 1998 and Wagner served until 2009.

Commission positions are considered part-time and members are paid $40,000 a year with the chairman receiving $55,000 a year.