Former Nevada Governor Joins MGM Resorts

Brian Sandoval was out of office as the governor of Nevada for just a single day before he took up a job with MGM Resorts. His new role will be as the company’s president for global gaming development.

Sandoval’s focus will be on the company’s global expansion, particularly in Japan. Resort casinos are now legal in Japan and three licenses are up for grabs. All of the major casino operators globally are vying for one of these licenses, so it will be a competitive process.

Gaining a license to operate in Japan would see MGM Resorts garner billions of dollars in revenue each year.  Therefore, it needs skilled operators on board. Sandoval’s political experience will no doubt stand him in good stead when negotiating with politicians and authorities in Japan.

Sandoval’s career to date

Over the past 20 years, Sandoval has held a variety of different posts in government, so it might take some time for him to find his feet in the private sector.

A Republican, he was in office as the governor of Nevada from 2011 until 2019. He is formerly a United States District Judge in Nevada, as well as being the 30th attorney general in the state’s history.

As governor and head of the Nevada Gaming Commission, Sandoval has plenty of experience of the gambling sector. He first became a member of the commission in 1998 and a year later, at 35 years old, he became the youngest chairman in its history.

As part of his work, he led the charge against blocking college sports gambling. He also brought in regulations to stop the scope of neighborhood gaming, as well as curtailing slot machines that were attracting youths through their appealing themes.

During his tenure as chairman of the commission, he would have been working closely with MGM Resorts and other major casino operators in the state. With his pre-existing relationship with the key operators in the state, he has a good idea of their inner workings.

He took over the state governorship at a time when Nevada was struggling in a massive way as a result of the global recession. After two four-year terms as governor, Sandoval has to step aside as he is not able to run for office again.

Working with MGM Resorts

Sandoval believes that he is a good fit for his new role with MGM Resorts, thanks to his previous government positions.

He said: “MGM Resorts is a global leader in gaming and entertainment and I look forward to joining the MGM team led by Jim Murren, someone who I greatly respect. Jim has formed critical relationships in Japan and in sports and I look forward to building upon this strong foundation.”

Sandoval already has a history in Japan, as he was part of a trade mission to the country in August 2018. Many in the space see Japan’s opening up of casino legislation as being a massive business opportunity.

Sandoval is known for being a good negotiator and his skills will be vital in MGM’s efforts to gain one of the lucrative licenses. Leaving office, he has a high approval rating from peers and voters alike, clearly being an effective and a likeable operator.

MGM making changes

MGM Resorts has recently been restructuring in order to free up more than $300m in cash flow each year. This means it is slashing as many as 2,000 jobs, many of which are higher-up roles, but also including some union jobs.

Currently, the company operates 27 properties worldwide, with 19 of them being in the United States. MGM is now placing a particular focus on the Asia market. It wants to solidify a presence in Macau, the leading destination for gambling in the region, as well as create a presence in Japan, a burgeoning market.

MGM is busy appointing talented, experienced people in the right positions to aid in its efforts to expand. In addition to Sandoval’s new role, the MGM president Bill Hornbuckle will be heading up the global casino marketing department, focusing on growth in their properties in Macau in particular.