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Gaming Guru

 

Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director steps down

8 November 2006

November 26 will mark the end of Dan Gustafson's four-year run as Executive Director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board. On November 27, Gustafson will succeed Reginald Carter as the new President and CEO of the Health Care Association of Michigan.

Gustafson was appointed executive director of the Board on Nov. 24, 2002, by former Michigan Governor John Engler. Prior to joining the Board, Gustafson was Michigan???s Liquor Control Commissioner and served as Chief of Staff to former Lt. Governor Dick Posthumous. He was also a state representative from Haslett and served as a member of the Oversight and Ethics Committee which handled gaming legislation and amended the Gaming Control and Revenue Act.

Over the years, Gustafson's primary role as Michigan's top gaming regulator has been overseeing the three Detroit casinos operated by MotorCity, MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown. At the time of his appointment, the three casinos were housed in temporary structures and one of Gustafson's main goals was to ensure a smooth transition for the casinos into their new permanent homes. Progress has been made toward that goal as all three casinos are in the construction phase with plans to open their new facilities in 2007-2008. Several years ago, Gustafson worked on the difficult regulatory aspects of the sale of the MotorCity Casino from Mandalay Resort Group to its current ownership. He also supervised the approval of debt transactions for both Greektown and MotorCity Casino's permanent developments.

In addition to that responsibility, Gustafson has been in charge of the Board's large staff and has also coordinated Board responsibilities with the Michigan State Police, Michigan Attorney General's office, IRS, City of Detroit, and the state-run gaming laboratory which reviews electronic gaming devices to ensure that they are fair and meet technical specifications. The lab is the first in the nation to develop a certification program for cashless transfer systems.

During his tenure in office, significant process was made in speeding up the licensing process for suppliers and occupational licensees, while still ensuring that the public is adequately protected. In 2005, Gustafson established a satellite licensing office inside Greektown Casino to help speed up the licensing process. He streamlined the operations and information technology systems of the Board, and eliminated productivity losses. He finalized the build out of the new security facility for the Board, improved the fingerprinting operation for occupational licensees, and put into play an intranet to enhance communication and coordination of information between the various divisions of the MGCB.

"What I am most proud of is that we have dramatically improved the efficiency and productivity of the agency," said Gustafson. "This was accomplished by the hard work of staff buying into the goals and working hard to achieve them."

Gustafson's departure comes toward the end of one of the most financially successful years the Detroit casinos have had to date. He has gained great respect from members of his staff, including Administrative Manager Eric Bush, who stated the following: "He is a focused and tireless person, a very committed family man, and the consummate public servant - none finer."

Gustafson's replacement will be named by Governor Granholm in the coming weeks. The appointment is subject to the advise and consent of the state Senate. Given that the Michigan Gaming Control Board is a volunteer, unpaid Board, the executive director fills a critical role in the smooth operation of the state's complicated regulatory process. It is one of the most vital jobs for the successful operation of gaming in the Michigan. Hopefully, the governor will act quickly and prudently in naming a successor.

Gustafson did a fine job as executive director of the Board. After years of dedicated service to the public in so many different capacities, he has a lot to be proud of. He has always been the consummate professional, focused on doing the right thing, even when it may not have been the politically correct thing to do. Those of us in this state owe him a debt of gratitude for all he has done to improve our state in so many ways, especially those of us who work in the gaming industry.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com