Senate Advice and Consent Committee Hears from MGCB Executive Director Appointee Henry Williams
On Thursday of this week, the Senate Advice and Consent Committee held a hearing on the Governor’s appointment of Henry Williams to serve as the new Executive Director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”). Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Mr. Williams appointment last Friday. As previously reported in Volume 27, Issue 14 of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter, Mr. Williams has worked for the MGCB since 2001 serving in a wide variety of roles including management responsibilities for regulation and enforcement, employee licensing, and casino operations. Most recently he has been a Deputy Director of the Casino Operations Division, and provided oversight for enforcement and employee licensing. In a press release issued in connection with his appointment, current MGCB Executive Director Rick Kalm stated: “I have worked closely with Henry for 14 years and promoted him to his current MGCB position as deputy director. I believe Gov. Whitmer has made a good choice in appointing Henry to be the next executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.”
At Thursday’s hearing, Mr. Williams met and testified to the Committee for over an hour, providing his insights of his philosophy on proper regulation and enforcement with regard to the gaming industry. He made it clear that his philosophy is to provide a service to the industry ensuring proper regulation and to look for ways, within the confines of the Act, the Rules and the Internal Controls to eliminate unnecessary or overly burdensome regulatory requirements. “I see it as a service to the industry, . . these are our customers”, he said. “Throughout my career with the Gaming Control Board, I always like to review the Act, the Rules and the Internal Controls. If we put some barriers in place for those businesses to operate, I like to look at those to see how we can scale those back. If it is not codified that this has to be done, it protects the interests of the citizens of the state and ensures that there is fair and honest gaming, my question always is what is the risk? As the industry comes and we review it, take a long look at it, a hard look at it, if they are right they are right. If there is no reason we should do it, I always look to scale them back. I will continue to do that.”
Mr. Williams also addressed the need to be respectful of the sovereignty of tribal operators, and to be upfront and honest with an open door policy. He gave a lot of praise to the tribes for the input they provided on the administrative rules for the rollout of iGaming and online sports betting. Mr. Williams spoke on how he would guide his staff to strike the right balance in working with Tribes and stated he would emphasize: “educating our staff on the difference of the tribe’s sovereignty versus our oversight of what is going on online and ensuring that we maintain the dignity and respect that we should show to any other nation.”
The Senate Advice and Consent Committee intends to hold a vote on the appointment on Thursday, May 6th. A roll call vote of the Senate is necessary to confirm Mr. Williams’ appointment.
Bills were introduced in the Michigan Senate on Wednesday of this week seeking to allow video gaming experiences at Michigan racetracks. SB 396 was introduced by Senator Dan Lauwers (R-25th District) as the lead sponsor, and seeks to amend the law to permit historic race wagering. Additionally, SB 397 was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (R-27th District) seeking to permit video lottery terminals at horse tracks. Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-23rd District), who is listed as a co-sponsor of both bills, also introduced SB 398 to allow casinos to act as third party facilitators with respect to horse racing wagers.
All of these bills were immediately referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee which held a first hearing on the bills on Thursday of this week. No vote was taken on the bills, only testimony from the sponsors of the bills, supporters, and cards expressing both support and opposition to the bills was given. The bills are expected to be taken up again by the Committee in mid-May.
On April 23rd, President Joe Biden nominated Bryan Newland to the position of Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. Per the U.S. Department of Interior website, “The Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs assists and supports the Secretary of the Interior in fulfilling the United States’ trust responsibility to the Federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages and individual Indian trust beneficiaries, as well as in maintaining the Federal-Tribal government-to-government relationship.”
A White House statement issued in connection with the nomination states the following:
Bryan Newland is a citizen of Bay Mills Indian Community (Ojibwe), and was born and raised on the Bay Mills Reservation on the southern shore of Lake Superior. He recently completed his tenure as the elected President of Bay Mills Indian Community, where he previously served as Chief Judge of the Bay Mills Indian Community Tribal Court. From 2009 to 2012, Newland served as a Counselor and Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Interior – Indian Affairs under President Obama.
Newland is a graduate of the Michigan State University College of Law, with a certificate from the Indigenous Law and Policy Center. He also received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University. He is married to Erica Newland, and they have two children – Graydon and Meredith.
The nomination now goes to the United States Senate for approval.
As in prior years, Michigan’s horse racing track, Northville Downs, will be simulcasting the Kentucky Derby on Saturday and accepting simulcast wagers. In order to ensure compliance with the capacity limits that have been put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the track is requiring advance reservations to be made. Information is available on the track’s website.
The Innovation Group, organizers of the Emerging Leaders of Gaming program, and Global Gaming Business magazine (GGB) announced this week the opening of their annual nomination process for the Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40, a program that recognizes young professionals making significant impacts in the casino gaming industry.
The nomination process is an open call to the industry, allowing stakeholders to nominate colleagues or themselves. Nominations are reviewed by an industry advisory board whose guidance informs the selection of the top 40 candidates. Individuals named to the Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40 are profiled in GGB, honored at an annual reception during Global Gaming Expo (G2E), and offered other opportunities for increased exposure across the industry.
“Now more than ever, Emerging Leaders of Gaming is an opportunity for young executives in gaming to connect, share ideas, and gain a competitive advantage,” said The Innovation Group President Michael Soll. “Thanks to GGB and continued industry support, this program has evolved into the industry’s quintessential leadership collaborative.”
Said Roger Gros, publisher of GGB, “Emerging Leaders of Gaming has become a showcase of talented young executives in the industry. Through mentorships, marketing, webinars, and seminars, these young people will develop into the leaders of the next generation of gaming.”
Nominations can be submitted through GGB’s website until August 13. The Emerging Leaders of Gaming Cocktail Event during G2E will be held on Wednesday, October 6 at SUSHISAMBA Las Vegas.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi’s Four Winds Casinos have announced an upcoming job fair at the Silver Creek Event Center inside Four Winds New Buffalo on Tuesday, May 4, from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. According to the press release issued on April 29, on the spot hiring will be available for a variety of positions at any Four Winds Casino locations including New Buffalo, South Bend, Dowagiac, or Hartford. A sign-on bonus of $500 is available for anyone that joins the Four Winds casinos team in an eligible position before June 30.
Full-time positions with full benefits are available and include Beverage Servers, Bartenders, Barbacks, Food Attendants, Food Servers, Kitchen Assistants, Cooks, Dishwashers, Security, Housekeeping, Cashiers Cage and more. Job fair attendees can meet with hiring departments and human resources representatives to explore career opportunities.
Four Winds has invited interested parties to apply online at fourwindscasino.com/employment.
To comply with health and safety protocols, all attendees at the job fair are required to complete a temperature check, answer health screening questions, wear a mask and practice social distancing.
The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (“NCLGS”) recently announced a free webinar on Thursday, May 6that 1:00 p.m. entitled “Land Based Gaming: Still Expanding”. The webinar will discuss which states are in process of and looking at expanding land-based casinos and how the recent expansion trend has evolved over the years. The panel will be moderated by Nevada Senator Keith Pickard, the President of NCLGS, and will consist of Andy Abboud, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs of Las Vegas Sands, Geoff Atkinson, Senior Data Analyst at Management Science Associates, Howard Glaser, Global Head of Government Affairs and Special Initiatives at Scientific Games, and Joe Weinberg, CEO of Cordish Gaming and Cordish Global Cities Entertainment. Juliann Barreto, CFO of Spectrum Gaming Group, will lead the Q & A portion of the webinar. The webinar is sponsored by Scientific Games and IGT. Interested persons can register here.