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Rod Smith

Bybee, Noted Gaming Authority, Dies at 65

22 September 2003

and Rod Smith

Shannon Bybee, executive director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' International Gaming Institute and a former top casino executive, gaming regulator and gaming lawyer, died Thursday at age 65.

One of the first casino executives to take a stand in support of problem gambling research and treatment, Bybee was a former president of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling. The council created the Shannon Bybee Award last year, an annual recognition given to a person who has made meaningful contributions to the issue of problem gambling.

Bybee was awarded the American Gaming Association's Gaming Greats Special Achievement Award last fall.

Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Pete Bernhard had high praise for Bybee and his career.

"I believe Nevada and the gaming industry has lost a pioneer in gaming regulation and integrity. His commitment to his family, gaming law and regulation were paramount. We're very grateful for what he gave his community and the state," he said Friday.

Bybee was born Aug. 29, 1938, in Tropic, Utah, and was a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He served as a U.S. Army military police officer and worked at the jail in Reno while putting himself through college at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Bybee graduated from the University of Utah College of Law in 1969 and clerked for Nevada Supreme Court Justice Jon Collins before moving into private practice.

He was appointed as a member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board in 1971 and served on the panel that serves as the industry's tax collector and policeman until 1974.

Bybee later worked for the Golden Nugget, eventually serving as president and chief executive officer of Golden Nugget Atlantic City.

He also was CEO of Atlantic City's Claridge hotel-casino and president and chief operating officer of slot maker Alliance Gaming Corp.

Steve Wynn, Bybee's former boss at Golden Nugget and its successor, Mirage Resorts, was saddened by Bybee's passing.

"Shannon Bybee was a dear friend and colleague who contributed greatly to the success of the Golden Nugget and Mirage Resorts in its Atlantic City day," Wynn said in a statement. "Shannon's personal integrity and his commitment to helping others was expressed in public service to the community as a member of the Gaming Control Board and as a teacher of young people in his role as professor at UNLV.

"Our community does not often enjoy the benefits of a man such as Shannon, so his passing is a loss to all of us," Wynn continued. "He will surely be missed, especially (by my wife Elaine and me)."

Bybee joined the faculty at UNLV in 1994 as a gaming professor. He was a professor at the school's College of Hotel Administration, the William S. Boyd School of Law and directed UNLV's International Gaming Institute.

He went on medical leave last year after being diagnosed with cancer, but remained available to students, faculty and reporters who sought his expertise.

"UNLV is deeply saddened by the loss of Shannon Bybee," University of Nevada, Las Vegas President Carol Harter said in a Friday statement. "Shannon truly was an asset to the Harrah Hotel College, the Boyd School of Law, and the university. His professional experience as a gaming regulator and in the gaming industry proved to be enormously valuable to both the students who took classes from him and to the development of the programs and activities in the International Gaming Institute. The UNLV community will miss him greatly."

Bybee is survived by wife Norma Reid Bybee, daughters Kelli Poll and Erin Belanger and sons Sean Bybee, Brendan Bybee and Reid Bybee as well as 12 grandchildren. He is also survived by sister, Molly Adams, and brothers Patrick Bybee and Evan Bybee.

Visitation is scheduled from 4 through 8 p.m. on Sunday at the Palm Mortuary at 1600 S. Jones Blvd. and from 9:30 through 10:30 a.m. on Monday at the Monte Cristo Chapel, 1801 S. Monte Cristo Way.

A funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, also at the Monte Cristo Chapel.