A Nice Start

Nevada Governor Sandoval last week named Becky Harris as the first chairwoman of the state Gaming Control Board. Harris is only the second woman to sit on the board in its long history. Former regulator Richard Schuetz applauds the move.

A Nice Start

Nevadans take great pride in identifying their state as the Gold Standard in the world of gaming regulation. Yet the history of the state’s regulatory entities does not always help support such a title as the following statistics detailing the reality of Nevada at the end of 2017 indicate:

  • The Nevada Gaming Control Board was formed in 1955 and is comprised of three board positions. This translates into 186 board-member years since 1955. In these last 62 years there has been only one woman on that board, and she served for one year and eight months. This translates into less than one percent of the total board-years possible
  • The state also has a Gaming Policy Committee. This committee is to assist the state in developing policy for the gaming and marijuana industries. All twelve of this committee’s members are male.
  • The Nevada Gaming Commission has five members, four of which are male.

One does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand that these statistics do not exist without a clear and unequivocal bias being present, and that is not the type of thing normally associated with gold standards.

On January 12, 2018, Governor Sandoval’s Office announced that Becky Harris would fill the vacant position of chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. I applaud Governor Sandoval for making this decision and suggest it is a nice start, but it is only a start. Chairman Harris needs to represent the beginning of something and not the end; she needs to be the starting line and not the finish.

A reality of Nevada gaming is that it has not only been the regulatory entities that have demonstrated a strong and unequivocal bias toward men, but also the industry, especially in the higher positions. One only needs to look at the executive leadership and the boards of the larger gaming companies and manufacturers to see that this is unquestionably true.

It was Peter Drucker who suggested: “If you cannot measure it, you can’t improve it,” a quote often suggested to be one of the most important in modern management. When it comes to gender diversity in the gaming industry, Nevada needs to get modern.

I am assuming that when Nevada bandies about the Gold Standard expression that it signifies leadership. If Nevada wants to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk, it has got to continue to lead in the areas of importance, and gender diversity and fairness are issues of importance.

The Nevada regulatory authorities collect and publicize tons of statistics. They need to start collecting statistics on diversity that include job classification gender breakouts, by number and pay scales, and these need to be publicized. The modern HR systems of today can capture and provide these data trails, and this is an attainable goal. Let this be the next step in doing the right thing in Nevada – and this can help them live up to being the gold standard for the world.

Winston Churchill once suggested: “Sometimes it is not enough to do our best; we must do what is required.” I would suggest that what is required is a great deal, and the time to start is now. Let the ugly statistics that were listed at the start of this article be Nevada’s history – and not its future.

Articles by Author: Richard Schuetz

Richard Schuetz started dealing blackjack for Bill Harrah 47 years ago, and has traveled the world as a casino executive, educator and regulator. He is sincerely appreciative of the help he received from his friends and colleagues throughout the gaming world in developing this article, understanding that any and all errors are his own.