He is moving on to a post in law firm McDonald Carano. Sandoval has not nominated a replacement yet.
The Nevada gaming industry will feel his loss. During his tenure, Burnett oversaw the introduction of both internet gaming, regulated daily fantasy sports. He also managed a host of legal and regulatory changes.
Following his appointment in 2011, and re-appointment in 2015, he gained a reputation for supporting the needs of the industry while maintaining a strong commitment to consumer protection. Burnett accomplished this delicate balancing act against a background where everything to do with Nevada gaming is political.
“A.G. was a fair and thoughtful regulator who impressively balanced the roles of top gaming watchdog with ensuring that our state’s leading industry maintained flexibility to innovate and achieve forward progress. He was respected by both his peers and the industry he served and I know that he will look back on his career in public service with pride.”
Burnett oversaw the first state-regulated US online poker
Perhaps the highlight of his tenure was the role he played in Nevada becoming the first state to launch state-regulated online poker.
When the Department of Justice reversed its position on the Wire Act, Burnett helped to ensure that Nevada was quick off the mark in having a regulatory and licensing system in place to make the launch of Ultimate Poker possible.
On April 13, 2013, Ultimate Poker became the first online poker operator to operate completely legally in the US under a state-regulated license. A few months later, on Sept. 19 at 9:19am (9/19 9:19, for numerologists everywhere), WSOP.com opened its doors.
Ultimate Poker didn’t last as long as Chairman Burnett. Reliance on an outdated proprietary software platform was a major factor in its demise, and it finally closed down in November 2014, leaving the market to WSOP which uses a much more user-friendly online poker platform powered by 888.
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Burnett is staying local
When California Gambling Control Commission Commissioner Richard Schuetz stepped down from his position, he headed off to the Caribbean to become the Executive Director of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission. Chairman Burnett is embarking on a journey a little less exotic.
The law firm where Burnett will be working is based in Reno, so he will remain in the area. He can probably expect calls asking for his advice for years to come.
McDonald Carano attorney A.J. “Bud” Hicks told the Las Vegas Review Journal that Burnett faces a one-year “cooling-off” period before the firm can use him to represent clients in front of the Nevada regulators. Hicks added;
“He [Chairman Burnett] will be an invaluable resource for our present clients and for new clients as they enter the industry.”
Of his own departure, Burnett commented:
“Following a nearly 20-year career in gaming regulation I have elected to retire from state service. It has been an honor to serve as Chairman of the Gaming Control Board Chairman and I would like to thank Governor Sandoval for his constant support and faith in my ability. During my tenure, the Gaming Control Board has handled unprecedented regulatory challenges, effected numerous regulatory and statutory changes to accommodate shifts in technology, and addressed issues such as internet gaming, nightclub regulation and policy regarding cannabis in connection with gaming. I am proud of the work we have done, what we have accomplished and would like to express my gratitude to the Control Board staff for their tireless work on behalf of our state.”
Sandoval gave no indication as to the date when his replacement will be announced.