Nevada’s new governor tabbed the newest member of the part-time Gaming Commission to become the state’s top full-time gaming regulator.
In a surprise announcement Wednesday, Governor Steve Sisolak named Sandra Morgan as the chairwoman of the three-member Nevada Gaming Control Board, the agency tasked with regulating the state’s casino and gaming industry.
Morgan, an attorney, is currently the director of external affairs for AT&T Services, Inc. for southern Nevada and is responsible for managing AT&T’s legislative and community affairs activities. Morgan was appointed to the five-person Gaming Commission last April by now former-Governor Brian Sandoval. At the time, she was a member of the Nevada Athletic Commission.
She becomes just the second woman and the first African-American to oversee the Gaming Control Board in the agency’s more than 60 years of operation. The chair of the Control Board earns $158,879 a year.
“Sandra Douglass Morgan will be an incredible asset to the Gaming Control Board and I am proud to be able to appoint her as chair,” Sisolak said in a statement. “Sandra’s extensive experience and record of leadership shows that she is not only qualified to chair the Nevada Gaming Control Board, but that she will excel at it as well.”
The Gaming Control Board makes recommendations on licensing and other matters to the Gaming Commission, which makes a final ruling.
A native of Las Vegas, Morgan also served as the city attorney for the City of North Las Vegas. She also served as a litigation attorney for MGM Mirage (now MGM Resorts International).
“I’m honored and humbled to be able to serve our great state in this capacity and will ensure that Nevada remains the gold standard in gaming regulation,” Morgan said in a direct message.
Morgan will replace Becky Harris as chairwoman. Sandoval named Harris – a Republican state senator – to be the first female chair in Nevada history. Harris was appointed to fill out the remaining year left in the term of Chairman A.G. Burnett.
Most observers expected Sisolak to retain Harris. Last June, Sandoval told CDC Gaming Reports the next governor should reappoint Harris.
“She’s a rock star, and she has taken on some extraordinary tough issues right out of the chute,” Sandoval said.
Harris pushed for changes to Nevada regulations governing the conduct of gaming companies to include language concerning sexual harassment awareness and prevention. In November, the board unanimously sent the proposed changes to the Nevada Gaming Commission for final approval.
Harris’ term expires Jan. 27 and she oversaw her last Control Board meeting Wednesday.
“It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to serve the board to serve the state in this capacity. I loved every minute of it,” Harris said.
In a statement, Sisolak said, “I want to thank Becky Harris for her service during her time as chair and to recognize the incredible milestone her tenure marked as the first woman chair of the board as well as her commitment to combatting sexual harassment and discrimination in Nevada’s gaming industry.”
Morgan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Nevada, Reno and was awarded a Juris Doctor from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Sisolak will have to name a replacement for Morgan on the Gaming Commission. He also has a second appointment to make to the Gaming Control Board.
Shawn Reid, a career Gaming Control Board employee since 1990 who was appointed to his seat in 2011 by Sandoval, said last year he wasn’t seeking another term.
The third member of the board, Terry Johnson, has two years remaining on his term.
The appointments come as the Control Board prepares to tackle several issues, including the 2019 Legislative session and potential changes in state gaming regulations.
Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.