he Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday denied a license for the CEO of GameCo, a Las Vegas company specializing in skill-based video game slot machines.
Blaine Graboyes was denied licensing in a 4-1 vote after four hours of sworn testimony and deliberations by the commission, as reported by Las Vegas Review-Journal. The decision prevents him, who has 12 video gambling machines operating in Nevada and 4 in Oklahoma, from operating in Nevada or collaborating with gaming licensees in the state.
A GameCo spokesperson told Yogonet in an emailed statement on Monday, Feb. 22 that Graboyes is no longer with the organization. "Consistent with its ongoing search for team members to fuel its growth, GameCo will be appointing a new CEO in due course. Leadership responsibilities have been assumed by the existing GameCo management team, led by senior Company executives Art Hamilton, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer, and Rich Maryyanek, Head of Global Business Development, together with Robert Montgomery, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Seth Schorr, Board Director, who will provide enhanced support and oversight of the Company. In addition, Board Observer Adam Rosenberg will provide further guidance to the executive search process. GameCo’s senior team has been instrumental in the Company’s success to date in driving forward a mission to create new casino gaming experiences," the statement says.
Earlier this month, the Nevada Gaming Control Board recommended Graboyes for a one-year temporary license to continue operating in the state. The Board members questioned him to determine his suitability to hold a license over allegations related to intellectual property, among other issues.
After receiving a temporary license for two years in Nevada in 2019, GameCo developed video game titles that encourage young players to move to casino versions of the same game. Among GameCo’s slot titles are Nothin’ But Net, Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream and Terminator 2. All have a skill-based component to them that give players an edge to win more money if they play the game strategically.
Graboyes said his next project would be to establish an esportsbook in Colorado that would enable gamblers to wager on the outcomes of video game tournaments and matches.
In testimony Thursday, he described how he cut off power to his own house to save money in his effort to develop GameCo’s video game gambling that would attract more GenX, millennial and GenZ customers to casinos with his machines.
He was hired as a consultant to a small Toledo, Ohio, company, Beyond Gaming, in 2014, and top investors eventually named him the company’s CEO. He said Beyond, teetering on bankruptcy, never paid him. Graboyes was accused in a social media post of taking intellectual property from Beyond Gaming for GameCo when Graboyes worked as consultant and CEO.
That’s what led to Thursday’s denial vote. Beyond Gaming eventually filed to liquidate under Chapter 7 bankruptcy and gaming commissioners couldn’t reconcile Graboyes’ taking abandoned intellectual property from Beyond to GameCo. Graboyes said he offered to pay $50,000 for software codes, even though he was skeptical that he could use them for GameCo.
Beyond Vice President Justin Yamek, during public comment periods, accused Graboyes of driving Beyond into bankruptcy and taking the company’s software assets. Graboyes has denied the allegations. While no lawsuits have been filed, commissioners said Graboyes had a conflict of interest in his roles as consultant and CEO for Beyond and CEO of GameCo.
Commissioners based the denial on failure to meet standards in state statutes addressing licensing and suitability. Commissioner Deborah Fuetsch cast the lone vote against denial, agreeing with the Control Board’s recommendation that Graboyes should be given a year of temporary licensing to build a case for suitability.
Graboyes had applied for a finding of suitability as a trustee, beneficiary and officer and director of GameCo LLC and for a license as a manager and key executive of the company. He was licensed in Nevada in February 2019 with a two-year restriction after board members questioned his treatment of tax liabilities years ago and his failure to report lawsuits and liens resulting from those liabilities during his licensing suitability investigation.