Gaming & Administrative Law

The Global Gaming Industry’s Premier Gaming Law Group

Since our founding in Reno in 1949, McDonald Carano’s Nevada roots have created the global gaming industry’s premier Gaming Law Practice. With more than 70 years of experience, we have handled all matters relating to the licensing, regulation, and control of the gaming industry by governmental authorities and we have represented nearly every participant in the gaming industry wherever they do business.

In 1980, A.J. “Bud” Hicks co-founded the International Association of Gaming Advisors (IAGA) in Nevada when it was known as the National Association of Gaming Attorneys and he continues to serve as an appointed member of IAGA Counselors. Bud’s more than 40 years of service to IAGA has also included serving as a President and Trustee. Our involvement in IAGA also currently includes A.G. Burnett serving as a Member of the Board of Trustees and a member of the Regulator Relations Committee. Our leadership in the gaming law profession includes Greg Giordano currently serving as Vice Chairman of both the Executive Committee of the Gaming Law Section of the State Bar of Nevada and the Gaming Law Committee of the ABA’s Business Law Section. Gaming Law attorney Kelci Binau is a member of Global Gaming Women and serves as a Lean-In Circle Moderator and the Communications & Content Liaison for the Marketing Committee of GGW.

Our U.S. and international clients include owners and operators of casinos and pari-mutuel wagering facilities, hotels and resorts, restricted gaming license entities, online and mobile operators, manufacturers and distributors of gaming equipment and software, sports-book operators, eSports entities, travel centers, skill-based gaming, lotteries and sweepstakes, fantasy sports, key employees, investors, banks and non-traditional lenders. We also assist vendors that provide goods and services to casinos as well as technology providers for internet and mobile gaming and sports wagering operators.

Our Gaming Practice is ranked in the highest Tier 1 category in “The Best Law Firms in America” report published by U.S. News–Best Lawyers. As the report explains, “achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. Firms that receive the Tier 1 designation reflect the highest level of respect a firm can earn among other leading lawyers and clients from the same communities and practice areas.”

The Gaming Practice is also highly ranked in the prestigious Chambers USA Guide. During the Chambers research process, clients shared the following comments about our gaming law group – Members of the team are “very thoughtful and to the point” and have “valuable perspective on the practical realities of how investigations work and how to guide clients through the process.” “They do good work and always have the right experts available.” The team “has a great network within the gaming regulatory community, and uniquely understand how the regulators think about things.” “They have a strong understanding of the law and the execution required to deliver compelling results.”

Licensing, Findings of Suitability and Approvals

Gaming industry participants need a license or approval from a state or tribal gaming regulatory authority and/or approval by a corporate compliance committee which issue findings of suitability after conducting thorough background investigations. McDonald Carano helps clients obtain and maintain these vital licenses and approvals, guiding clients from the initial application to the investigation and interview process, through the public hearing on the finding of suitability and issuance of a license or approval, and in the ongoing obligation to update regulators.

We are particularly experienced in working with clients that have existing, new, pending and/or future target market licensing and approval considerations in multiple U.S. jurisdictions as well as in other countries around the world. We are especially adept at serving as lead coordinating and oversight counsel for the selection, direction and management of multiple local counsel firms in numerous jurisdictions as well as the establishment and implementation of policies, procedures and protocols for centralized document and other information systems required to ensure the smooth, efficient and timely application submission and follow-up process.

We routinely work with the gaming commissions, state gaming control boards, and local gaming licensing and regulatory authorities across the United States. Not only do we advise gaming clients, but we also provide guidance to regulatory and federal agencies on meeting and drafting regulatory standards.

Casino Industry
McDonald Carano attorneys provide representation to gaming clients in all stages of casino development, acquisition, and operation, including site location and planning matters, acquisition of interests in existing gaming companies, financings and institutional investor investments, construction and expansion of gaming properties, and all related gaming licensing and compliance matters, regardless of complexity.

Restricted Gaming License Industry

In addition to serving as counsel to the largest, most successful and most familiar names of gaming businesses on the global stage, including Caesars Entertainment, International Game Technology, Boyd Gaming Corporation, Aristocrat Leisure, Universal Entertainment Corporation, Hard Rock International and Gauselmann AG, McDonald Carano is also serves a major multi-million dollar specialty segment of the gaming industry called the “restricted gaming license” market which permits the operation of a limited number of slot machines in establishments where the operation of such slot machines is incidental to the primary purpose of the business. This large market segment includes licensees, owners, operators and managers of restricted gaming license establishments, such as bars/restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, drug stores, liquor stores, and auto/truck plazas. In this specialty market, McDonald Carano has represented for many years one of the Nevada’s largest slot route operators and convenience-store operators servicing hundreds of locations throughout the state.

In-House Regulatory Experience

Gaming clients need outside counsel that know how to get things done inside gaming regulatory agencies. Our gaming law attorneys provide clients with unmatched and unique practical insight into the inner workings of gaming regulatory and oversight agencies.

  • Alvin J. “Bud” Hicks – Prior to becoming a private practice gaming attorney, Mr. Hicks served as Chief Deputy Attorney General for the State of Nevada on gaming matters and served as counsel to the Nevada Gaming Commission (“NGC”) in a landmark case that upheld the constitutionality of Nevada’s gaming regulatory structure.
  • A.G. Burnett – Prior to becoming a private practice gaming attorney, Mr. Burnett served as Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board (“NGCB”), a member of the Governor of Nevada’s Gaming Policy Committee, Deputy Chief of the NGCB’s Corporate Securities Division, and Senior Deputy Nevada Attorney General representing the NGCB, the Nevada Gaming Commission, and the Nevada Commission on Sports. Mr. Burnett currently serves in an advisory and consulting role to the American Gaming Association and the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers.
  • P. Gregory Giordano – Prior to becoming a private practice gaming attorney, Mr. Giordano served as a Deputy Nevada Attorney General representing the Nevada Gaming Control Board (“NGCB”) and Nevada Gaming Commission (“NGC”), and then served as the Chief of the Corporate Securities Division of the NGCB.
  • Dennis Gutwald – Prior to becoming a private practice gaming attorney, Mr. Gutwald spent seven years as a Nevada Gaming Control Board Investigative Agent.

Compliance Committee Counsel Expertise

McDonald Carano gaming lawyers advise and serve on compliance committees of gaming industry participants to assist with regulatory compliance and reporting requirements, compliance audits and internal investigations. We design practical solutions to address issues and prepare disclosures that satisfy legal requirements. For example, our attorney currently serve as Nevada Compliance Counsel, Special Compliance Counsel, Independent Member Compliance Counsel and/or Chairman of the Gaming Compliance Committees of many of the most prominent gaming businesses headquartered around the world, including Caesars Entertainment, Universal Entertainment Corporation, Boyd Gaming Corporation, International Game Technology, Gauselmann AG, TravelCenters of America, Westgate Las Vegas Resort Casino, Resorts World Las Vegas, Aristocrat Leisure Limited, Interblock D.O.O., and GameCo LLC, among many others.

Our Services

We counsel and represent industry clients in every area of importance, including:

  • Acquisition, construction and expansion, and operation of gaming properties
  • Disposition, refinancing, and workouts of gaming properties
  • Dispute resolution, including litigation and alternative dispute resolution
  • Employment law guidance and advice
  • Financings and institutional investor investments
  • Legislative counsel and advocacy
  • Licensing and applications across multiple states, including liquor licensing
  • Lotteries, sweepstakes, eSports and other contests for cash
  • Real estate, including site location, planning, land use, permitting and zoning
  • Regulatory, compliance, and enforcement counsel
  • Risk analysis
  • Tax and tax appeals

Representative Experience

  • Representing a large publicly traded gaming company in the acquisition of eight casino operations in six different states, including all relevant gambling and related business licensing matters as well as ongoing gaming compliance issues.
  • Providing strategic guidance to an industry organization regarding legalization and regulation of gaming and sports betting around the country.
  • Acting for the largest publicly traded operator of truck plazas along major state highways in America in the acquisition and licensing of auto/truck plaza casino operations located on interstate highways.
  • Representing a publicly traded international company that develops, manufactures, and sells gaming machines in connection with gaming regulatory compliance and reporting requirements.
  • Regularly representing all the executives of a publicly traded company in connection with the handling of their findings of suitability/licensing applications and hearings.
  • Representing an institutional investor as its outside gaming counsel, handling on a national basis all of its gaming regulatory filings in connection with its investments in the stocks of various publicly traded companies involved in the gaming industry in the United States.
  • Assisting a large gaming device manufacturer in obtaining gaming manufacturers and distributors licenses.
  • Advised a sports book and resort casino operator regarding the regulatory requirements and approvals required to integrate their operations nationally.
  • Helped a tribe evaluate and determine ownership structure alternatives for the acquisition of various casino resorts.
  • Advised a major foreign gaming operator in assessing regulatory and approval requirements for the acquisition of an international gaming company.
  • Led the work for a prominent privately-owned gaming company in its one billion plus U.S. dollars merger with a publicly traded gaming company, providing strategic legal and commercial counsel on complex gaming licensing procedures in five different states as they relate to casino, lottery, horse racing, liquor, and general business licenses.
  • Represented a major publicly traded gaming company in a one billion U.S. dollars refinancing, including advising on all aspects of obtaining the relevant approvals required to facilitate the deal from the various gaming regulatory authorities.
  • Represented a large publicly traded gaming company in the acquisition of two hotel-casino resorts, including handling all relevant gaming and related business licensing matters linked to the acquisitions.
  • Represented a leading hotel-casino resort in an investigation into a range of regulatory compliance issues. Advising the client on the implementation of remedies and a compliance program to safeguard against future issues on the regulatory side.

Practice Area News

A.G. Burnett Interviewed on Nevada Newsmakers: Gaming Industry Q&A

A.G. Burnett, a Partner in our Gaming Law Practice and a former Chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), shared his insights and perspectives on a variety of gaming…

Chambers USA Recognizes A.G. Burnett in Gaming Law/Nevada and Gaming Law/USA

McDonald Carano congratulates A.G. Burnett for receiving prestigious recognition in both Gaming & Licensing Law/Nevada and Gaming & Licensing Law/US Nationwide in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.  Chambers…

A.G. Burnett Receives 2nd Lawyer of the Year Award in Gaming Law from Best Lawyers

McDonald Carano congratulates A.G. Burnett for receiving his second Lawyer of the Year award in Gaming Law from The Best Lawyers in America.  A.G. received the award in the 2023…

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