Gaming insider moves to the outside

Many Nevadans have transitioned into new jobs and even careers. Patrick Wynn is one of them. The former Nevada Gaming Control Board deputy chief of investigations, who recently retired after more than 31 years of service, sees his new role as more of a shift in position than in mission.

Wynn, no relation to the casino operator, started his career with the Gaming Control Board after getting tired of living in Los Angeles. Looking to expand beyond his job—he was an accounts payable manager with Union Oil—Wynn got a position as an investigator. The division remained his home for the next three decades, minus a yearlong “sidestep” into enforcement.

Over the years, investigating applicants for Nevada casino licenses never lost its appeal for Wynn.

“With most jobs, you’re stuck in a routine,” Wynn says. “Working with gaming, there was the shell of that, but you never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet. In investigations, I met people from every walk of life and every location around the world. Even the kinds of records that you’ll be looking at are unpredictable.”

Wynn views his years at the board not as a job so much as a continuing education, one just as rewarding as the formal one that saw him earn an MBA from UNLV. Each investigation brought him into touch with a new set of applicants, whose careers and business practices he’d become intimate with—sometimes uncomfortably so.

As Wynn says, the investigative process goes beyond a financial stability procedure. “We have to know them better than they know themselves,” he says. The cold forensics of investigations can reveal plenty—peccadilloes, probation violations, infidelities—that many applicants would rather keep to themselves.

“You’re experiencing other peoples’ lives,” he says, still with a bit of awe at the process. Investigators examine a range of financial documents, check professional histories, interview applicants in their homes to make sure their stated income squares with their lifestyle, and even examine hard drives.

Wynn stresses that “we’re not moral judges,” and that a good investigator is just interested in making sure that those who aren’t suitable for financial or criminal reasons are kept out of the system.

Longtime gaming attorney Robert Faiss, who has been a fixture in the regulatory process since the 1960s, believes Wynn has been a model board employee.

“Pat was instrumental in enhancing the performance and reputation of the Nevada Gaming Control Board,” he says. “In addition to his intelligence and experience, his sense of fairness and willingness to help those involved with the gaming control system from the outside were invaluable.” Faiss believes Wynn contributed vitally to Nevada entering the era of truly global gaming.

“One notable improvement to which his leadership contributed was modifying investigations of gaming license applicants from foreign countries to accommodate differences in culture, custom and law.”

After three decades of prepping board members for their questioning of prospective licensees, Wynn is getting ready to appear before the three-member body. On Jan. 27, he will present his application to become an enrolled agent, licensed to represent clients before the group.

That’s because his new career isn’t so different from his old one: He’ll still preparing people for licensing proceedings, but now it will be applicants. Wynn sees it as an extension, not a reversal, of his vocation. He’s still working in the best interests of the state.

Wynn started his own business, Longtitude-360 Consulting, and is also working with Nevada Licensing Services, a company that guides those seeking gaming and liquor licenses in Nevada.

“Instead of helping from the inside, by making sure everyone who’s licensed is fit to be in the industry, I’ll be helping from the outside,” he says. “Gaming in Nevada is a complex system, with a lot of intricacies. It’s not about helping people get around important issues—it’s making sure that all the dots are connected in the right way before we go before the commission.”

But one thing isn’t changing.

“I’m still going to work to help people, and benefit the state,” he says.

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