Wayne Gilliland was a casino manager’s friend

Over the course of everyone’s career a few people always standout; people who for one reason or another made a big difference.  One of those people for me was Wayne Gilliland.  In the 1980s Wayne was in the midst of a second career as a gaming agent; Wayne had retired from the California Highway Patrol and had come to Reno to work for the Nevada Gaming Control Board.  He stayed with gaming for 15 years before he retired; Wayne had one more career as one of the founding partners of International Casino Surveillance Network; when ICS sold, Wayne, once again retired, moved back to his boyhood home, Tehachapi, California.

For the gaming industry and for me, the most important part of Wayne’s career was the time he spent in Reno with the Nevada Gaming Control Board.  At some point in the mid-80s Wayne was appointed to be a liaison between the regulators and the gaming industry in Northern Nevada; Wayne’s appointment was part of the Gaming Control Board’s plan to improve the relationship between the board and the industry.  That is where our paths crossed; Wayne was a gaming agent and I was a casino manager.

Gaming in Nevada has had a checkered past; regulation evolved slowly and was not always welcomed with open arms by the industry.  In the 1970s Nevada instituted a series of regulations meant to weed out the mob, gain an accurate accounting of casino revenues, collect the taxes due on those revenues and see that casinos were operated as honest and fair businesses.  That was a tall order after the days of Bugsy Stiegel, Frank Rosenthal, Anthony Spilotro and the Kansas City Mob.

The change from mob business to mob-less business was led by Dennis Gomes.  Dennis first became famous as chief of the audit division of gaming control.  In that role Dennis discovered the elaborate Stardust skimming scheme and other mob related activity.  That scam and Dennis’ work changed gaming regulations; it also changed gaming attitudes on both side of the regulation-operations divide.  The systems of internal controls had been introduced and intended to stop the casinos from skimming and force them into following the regulations.  Agents went into audits with the Gomes’ mindset, “catch the crooks.”  Gaming agents in their zeal and enthusiasm to “enforce the regulations” sometimes got a bit high-handed.  For their part, with or without any mob influence, casino managers had never and open, friendly and trusting lot and now they were less so.  The casino managers played their cards close to vest to put it mildly; they did not trust the agents, nor did they cooperate with them willingly.

It is easy to understand how the strained relationship between the two parties developed; enter Wayne Gilliland.  Wayne’s job was to provide an interface and facilitate non-antagonistic dialogue between the casinos and the Gaming Control Board.  Good luck, Wayne!  The plan was lucky and it worked.  Rather, Wayne worked and it wasn’t luck.  It was his skills and his personality that made the plan successful.  Wayne quickly became a friend to casino managers; if we had an issue with gaming control or one of its agents we called Wayne.  He would listen and help us understand the state’s requirements.  Then he would go to gaming control and act as our advocate.

I am not sure that the casinos in Northern Nevada have ever had a better friend than Wayne Gilliland.  Wayne changed the way casinos thought about gaming control and he helped change the way gaming agents thought and acted toward the casinos.  Every jurisdiction would benefit from having a Wayne Gilliland.  Wayne was a good man and a good friend, I will miss him.

Harold Wayne Gilliland passed away at age 73 on June 7, in Bakersfield.  Wayne, a Tehachapi native, was born on August 22, 1939, the fifth child of Simon and Marie Gilliland. The family moved to Bakersfield in 1954. Wayne joined the United States Army and served his country from 1958 – 1960.  Wayne met Karen Jones at Stan’s Drive-In, in June 1960, and they were married on July 1, 1961. Wayne worked at the east Bakersfield Post Office as a mail carrier from 1960 through 1964. He began his career with the California Highway Patrol in August 1964. Wayne retired from the CHP in 1982. Wayne also earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Bakersfield. Wayne and Karen moved to Reno, Nevada, in 1982, where he became an agent for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. He retired from the Gaming Control Board as a senior agent in 1997. He then started and ran his own consulting firm, International Casinos Surveillance Network, from1997 until selling the business and retiring for the final time in 2004. Wayne and Karen moved to Tehachapi from Reno in 2004. Tehachapi News


2 Responses to “Wayne Gilliland was a casino manager’s friend”

  1. 1 Ralph Criddle June 23, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Very Nice Ken,

  2. 2 Tom Paolella June 23, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Great article Ken. As one who knew Wayne well, he was one who could be trusted. As a friend, co-worker and sometimes Supervisor of Wayne, he was the Enforcement Division’s best answer to the “us and them” attitude that existed with the gaming industry and the Gaming Control board.
    Thanks for kind words of our friend, Wayne.

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