Casino and hospitality operator MGM Resorts International received criticism about the way it conducts business from an unusual source after a Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) member used a hearing to question the company’s past and present business decisions.
Seeking Business-Wide Reasons for the Delay
George Assad, a former Las Vegas judge and one of three NGCB members responsible for making recommendations on licensing and other regulatory matters to the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC), criticized MGM Resorts during a 10-minute regulatory hearing on an extension of the operator’s interactive gaming license, reported The Nevada Independent.
A holder of an interactive gaming license since 2012, MGM Resorts, does not plan to launch interactive gaming operations in the state where the vertical comprises online poker only as online casino gaming is not allowed, and much like other operators in Nevada, has to apply for a waiver on an annual basis.
Assad, who was appointed to the NGCB by Gov. Joe Lombardo in January, began by questioning why MGM Resorts would be delaying the launch of interactive gaming operation for a 13th time and then went off the script by second-guessing the company’s business decisions related to its casino property in Massachusetts, MGM Springfield.
“It seems like the company has made some bad decisions,” Assad remarked while questioning the hesitation of its leadership to make a final decision on whether to activate its interactive gaming license or not, suggesting that 11 years should be enough.
“Decisions like this give me pause in terms of why can’t upper management or Mr. Hornbuckle just make a decision after 11 years to either move forward with interactive gaming or not,” he added before moving on to the company’s MGM Springfield operation and stock price.
Assad discussed the company’s share price during the tenure of three CEOs, Terry Lanni, Jim Murren, and Bill Hornbuckle. Lanni retired in 2008, the year from which Assad owned shares in the company, and was succeeded by Murren, who was the company’s chief executive officer until 2020 when he retired and Hornbuckle stepped in.
“The stock price from when [Murren] took over dropped from, like, big time,” he said, pointing to the increase of MGM Resorts shares from $7 to $96.40 under Lanni’s leadership and the decrease “into the low teens” during Murren’s tenure.
Assad outlined that he had to sell his stock when appointed to the NGCB but he still keeps an eye on its share price to date.
According to several Nevada gaming attorneys who regularly attend regulatory hearings, Assad’s remarks were highly unusual as honest business decisions of a company should not be a regulatory concern.