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Rod Smith

Moran Tapped for Nevada Gaming Commission

28 June 2004

NEVADA -- Gov. Kenny Guinn Friday named John Moran Jr. to the Nevada Gaming Commission, replacing three-term commissioner Augie Gurrola.

Moran will join the commission July 26 when he resigns from the state Board of Wildlife Commissioners, where he has served since July 2000 and is in his second term.

Moran was in a wildlife commission hearing Friday and unavailable to discuss his appointment to the $40,000 a year position.

Guinn, however, said Moran has been an excellent member of the wildlife commission and is looking forward to serving on the five-member gaming commission.

"He is a person of great integrity. As one of our state's finest attorneys, he has a level of understanding and sophistication regarding the gaming industry that will serve the citizens of Nevada very well," Guinn said.

However, the appointment and Moran's service are likely to raise conflict of interest issues, University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor and casino industry expert Bill Thompson said.

"The governor could have done better," he said. "Moran is a good person and is certainly knowledgeable, but it's such an industry-insider appointment, it's going to prove to be very, very controversial.

"To my knowledge, no governor has ever appointed an industry person to a board. This guy has represented so many casinos even in licensing matters, he'll be forever recusing himself," Thompson said.

"We don't appoint the head of Caesars (Entertainment) and expect him to recuse himself. This guy has been involved with every company in the industry and we're likely to (in effect) have a four-member commission," he said.

Thompson said Moran won't be another Gurrola, who has been widely respected as a maverick on the commission who represented the general public and the little guy.

Moran, a Las Vegas attorney for more than 25 years, is founding partner in the law firm of Moran & Associates, which bills itself as specializing in development and land use issues and representing clients before administrative boards and commissions.

He is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the Loyola School of Law in Los Angeles, and is former member of the Colorado River Commission.

He is an investor with the group that is redeveloping the old Sears Building on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. As an attorney, he has represented the Stratosphere in its controversial moves to add thrill rides and UNLV basketball coach Bill Bayno in his termination dispute, and he defended developer Bill Walters against money laundering charges.

Moran's father, John Moran, was Clark County sheriff from 1982 until 1994, and his son, John Moran III, is a pro tem judge in the Henderson municipal court.

The gaming commission meets monthly and generally takes final action on issues that have been initially considered by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.