Keith, I Need a Favor

Carol O’Hare (r.) has been a trailblazing figure in the world of problem gambling treatment and management for decades, and when industry veteran Richard Schuetz needed some help in drafting an article about O’Hare’s tenure at the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, he enlisted the help of another industry titan, Keith Whyte (l.).

Keith, I Need a Favor

I had been requested by the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) to draft an article on Carol O’Hare—celebrating her tenure as executive director of the NCPG.

I initiated this process by writing to a bunch of old friends going back over three decades who knew Carol and her efforts well. I asked these folks to submit a quote or vignette about Carol. One of these people was my long-time dear friend, Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

His response follows:


Wow, I’m having a tough time, as Carol is one of the most inspiring and impressive people I’ve ever met.

Carol is simply THE pioneer of responsible gambling. She started advising Harrah’s in 1994, became executive director of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling in 1996, and everything in the field since then bears her imprint. When I joined the AGA in 1995, Carol was one of the first people I met, and she is still one of the finest.

Her advocacy helped move an entire industry. She had the opportunity to be in direct communication with decision-makers and establish trust, which was critical in the early days of responsible gambling.

She would describe other advocates in the field who pounded on the door of the industry, demanding this and that, but they never tried the doorknob. And then, when the door opens, you need to be able to deliver practical and positive solutions that meet current needs and create momentum for doing more next time.

Carol can be righteously stubborn, a stereotype of someone from the Midwest but also a requirement when dealing with reluctant gambling company CEOs and recalcitrant government administrators. Polite but persistent, she has the patience to set long-term precedents.

Carol proved that a gambler in recovery could survive and even thrive in Las Vegas. Indeed, her late husband Jim was her secret weapon, as his experience in the trenches as a dealer and pit boss provided Carol with an intimate and invaluable understanding of the life of gaming employees.

Her legacy is immense; she inspires me and countless others to never give up; she gave tirelessly of herself, and she publicly laid bare the difficult details of her gambling addiction and recovery to help humanize the disorder. One of her favorite sayings is by the great Dr. Rena Nora—before they were problem gamblers, they were people. And at the end of the day, that is the most important thing to remember about them.

We all owe Carol such a massive debt. I’m sorry I’m having a hard time coming up with something suitably laudatory. She is one of my earliest mentors, best friends, and most influential peers in the field.



Keith S. Whyte
Executive Director
National Council of Problem Gambling

Articles by Author: Richard Schuetz, Keith Whyte

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.