Nevada Gaming Control Board member Phil Katsaros announced Wednesday he is leaving the board, effective at the end of January.
Katsaros was appointed in April 2019 by former Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and had a term that ran through Jan. 28. He is not being reappointed by the new Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo.
The Board has been working with two of three board members since the departure of former Board Chairman Brin Gibson in November before his term expired in January. Brittnie Watkins has been serving as chair in the interim. The Nevada Independent wrote Wednesday that Las Vegas attorney Kirk Hendrick, former head of the Attorney General’s Gaming Division in the late 1990s and an executive with and chief legal officer for the UFC, will be appointed chair by Lombardo.
Katsaros choked up as he said goodbye at the end of Wednesday’s Gaming Control Board meeting. He has more than 20 years of gaming-industry experience, having served in a variety of positions and leadership roles during that time, including as a regulator with the Control Board.
“I wanted to express my sincerest heartfelt gratitude to my colleagues, all 400 of you, for working alongside you, learning from you, and making this agency, our state, and this industry a better place,” Katsaros said. “We’ve had a lot of challenges to deal with. There will always be ups and downs. But without question, I’ve enjoyed every day working alongside each of you to help lead this agency.”
Katsaros said they made a lot of consequential changes over the past four years, not including dealing with COVID. It’s about the regulatory framework, he said.
“In my view, things like that allow the industry to grow and thrive, all the while we maintain our high standards,” Katsaros said. “And that helps lift Nevada. What drives me most is improving things for Nevada and its residents, full stop. I know you all feel the same.”
Katsaros said he was 23 and just out of college when he went to work for the Nevada Gaming Control Board as an agent. There’s a lot of dedication and knowledge throughout the agency, he said.
“I knew that at the time I worked here, but it really hit home more when I came back,” Katsaros said. “I went home and said, wow, we really care here. We know what we do is important and we take pride in our work. It’s critical for the state of Nevada.”
As for what’s next for him, Katsaros said he’s not ready to share that. He said it will be less traditional than what most Board members do when they leave.
“I’m not going to a law or accounting firm or running an NFL team,” Katsaros said in reference to former chair Sandra Douglass Morgan, now president of the Las Vegas Raiders. “God bless you, Sandra. I probably have a better chance of making the Raiders than running the Raiders or any NFL team.”
Katsaros said his mom, an 80-year-old immigrant from Ukraine, always asks him if he’ll be on television. The meetings are streamed over the internet.
“I said, ‘Yep.’ So Mom, Dad, hello, and I love you,” Katsaros said. “For all of you, it’s not goodbye. I will be around. I won’t be far and don’t be strangers. I will miss all of you.”
Watkins thanked him welcoming her to the Board, leaing on him for support, and helping show her the ropes. “Your time here and services are very much appreciated,” Watkins said. “You will be missed.”
Much of Katsaros’ career has been focused on the international and online gaming sectors, working in part for IGT’s international land-based business.
Katsaros was the CEO and a director for Certus Gaming USA, Inc., a gaming-systems supplier whose parent company is based in Luxembourg. Prior to that, he served as the head of business development for Inspired Gaming’s virtual sports business for both land-based and online casino markets in North America.