In recent months, we’ve run a couple of articles in our weekly GGB News e-magazine by my friend Richard Schuetz, a longtime casino executive turned regulator, who now is executive director of the young Bermuda Gaming Commission. I’ve known Richard for longer than I (or he) care to admit, so we’re both of the same generation—one which saw the birth of the feminist movement.
Now, you can debate the impact of that movement on society—good or bad—but I think Richard and I both agree with the general tenets of feminism. Women and men are equal. Women should receive the same pay for the same work. Women should be equally considered for any job opening or promotion. And discrimination against women should be called out at every occurrence.
And Richard isn’t shy about making those calls. You can almost see him seething as he criticizes those organizations that are guilty of discrimination. And there are many, starting with his current role as a regulator. In July, he wrote about the dearth of women in regulatory roles, particularly in the “gold standard” regulatory state of Nevada.
“For the last 61 years, the rate of a woman being on the Nevada Gaming Control Board is less than 1 percent,” he wrote. And for good measure, the recently appointed Nevada Gaming Policy Board is comprised of 12 men, no women.
But if Nevada is the gold standard for regulation, it’s unfortunate that other states are copying this trend.
“The state of Pennsylvania currently has seven commissioners. They are all men, and for good measure so is their executive director (since his initial column, a woman has been named as a member). Mississippi has three commissioners, and they are all men, as is their executive director. And where I am now executive director, our commission is comprised of one woman and four men,” wrote Richard.
“Imagine walking into a casino and seeing that fewer than 1 percent of the employees were women, and the history of the organization was to not hire more than 1 percent women. At some point, the regulators would probably question this operator using the dual challenge of not being a suitable means of operation, and not operating with an appropriate level of character, honesty and integrity. Yet, is having a public organization that seemingly openly discriminates against women in the top spots a suitable means of operation, and reflective of sound character, honesty and integrity?”
But this doesn’t stop with regulators. It’s endemic at the highest levels of the casino industry as well. In another article published in GGB News in November, you’ll find “One is the Loneliest Number,” in which Richard points to some of the industry’s major companies—Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, IGT, MGM Growth Properties, Konami and Boyd Gaming, among others—where there is just one woman on the board of directors. And even more troubling, he highlights several companies—and we’ll not mention them here—that have zero women on the boards or among their senior executives, a situation Richard calls an “embarrassment.”
And I have to admit some guilt in not recognizing this. In my line of work, outside of the top executives, I’m in contact with marketing, communications and public relations executives. Many of them—I’d actually say the majority—are women, so I didn’t notice the dearth of women at the top.
But now I do know. And I hope this column is just as much of an education as Richard’s other columns were for me. It’s worth your while to go read them at GGBNews.com. Just search for Richard’s name there and you’ll find them.
GGB has been committed to the Global Gaming Women group since its formation by the American Gaming Association in 2011. Now that the group is autonomous and headed by former Isle of Carpi CEO Virginia McDowell, GGB is doubling down on our commitment to GGW. We publish a quarterly column by GGW leaders, and we’re going to help them re-launch the “Great Women of Gaming” awards program in 2017.
It’s this kind of attention that is needed to improve the status of women in gaming. And at GGB, we’ll be participating fully in that effort.