Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman and executive director J. Brin Gibson has resigned. Board member Brittnie Watkins will take over those roles starting next month, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday. Gibson, who has served as chairman of the board for two years, will pursue “a new professional opportunity,” according to a press release from Sisolak’s office. His departure becomes effective Nov. 30.
Brittnie Watkins, who was appointed to the board by Sisolak in April last year, will become next month the second black female chair in the board’s history. Sandra Douglass Morgan, now president of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, was the first black woman to chair the board when she accepted the appointment by Sisolak in 2019, recalls Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“I am grateful to Brin’s steady leadership at the Gaming Control Board over the last two years, and his continued counsel and friendship to me,” Sisolak said in a statement. “We wish him and his family nothing but the best for Brin’s next chapter. I am grateful that Brittnie Watkins has agreed to continue the incredible and important work at the Gaming Control Board.”
Sisolak further described Watkins as “more than ready for this role,” and shared his excitement to see her work in this new position. The press release further noted that Gibson informed the governor’s office of his planned departure earlier this year, and that he would not be pursuing a reappointment. However, the statement doesn’t explain why the announcement of his departure was delayed until Monday. Gibson’s term was set to expire in January.
Gov. Steve Sisolak
“I am humbled and honored to have served as chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board at this critical moment for Nevada,” Gibson said. “I am proud of the work we have accomplished, and I know there is so much more ahead for my colleagues. I want to thank Gov. Sisolak for giving me this opportunity, and for his leadership and support over the years.”
Gibson formerly served as Sisolak’s general counsel from January 2019 to January 2020. He also assisted the governor’s office during two special legislative sessions during the summer. While serving as Sisolak’s general counsel, Gibson – son of Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson – served as the chief legal counsel regarding ethics, transactional and legislative matters, as well as protection of state interests in the gaming and cannabis industries.
In this role, Gibson acted as the chief legal counsel to Sisolak and all executive branch agency directors and cabinet members, notes Review-Journal. Prior to joining the governor’s office, he served dual roles as the first assistant attorney general and chief of the Gaming Division within the Nevada attorney general’s office. While in those roles, Gibson supervised all regulatory and administrative law action for the attorney general’s office and oversaw a staff of nearly 400 lawyers and legal support professionals.
As the chief of gaming, he acted as chief legal counsel to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Nevada Gaming Commission and Nevada Gaming Policy Committee, where he handled all legal actions against gaming licensees by the board and commission, including regulatory issues and violations. Gibson was also appointed to two separate terms by former Gov. Brian Sandoval to serve as the commissioner of the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.
Brittnie Watkins will take over as chairman of the normally three-member board for the December meeting. That reunion is expected to include a request by Hard Rock International to acquire the operations of The Mirage from MGM Resorts International for $1.1 billion, points out The Nevada Independent.
Watkins is a former complex commercial litigation attorney. She and board member Philip Katsaros will be the only two board members to hear the December agenda. Watkins’ elevation to board chair is temporary. Joe Lombardo, who defeated Sisolak in the midterm election, will make the decision on a permanent replacement for Gibson after he is sworn in as governor in January. Katsaros’ term on the control board also expires at the end of January.