Lombardo’s pick for Gaming Control Board chair has a beef with state’s biggest union

By: - January 11, 2023 3:13 pm
gambling, er, gaming control board

Kirk Hendrick, named by Gov. Joe Lombardo as the next chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, has sparred with the Culinary 226 union over its efforts to organize workers at Station Casinos.

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship executive Kirk Hendrick is Gov. Joe Lombardo’s choice to serve as the next chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Lombardo named Hendrick to the board on Tuesday. He’s expected to replace Brittnie Watkins, who has served as chair since former chair Brin Gibson stepped down last year. 

“With his sharp business acumen, outstanding legal background, and passion for Nevada gaming, I know that Kirk will excel in this critical leadership role,” Lombardo said in a news release. 

Hendrick joined Zuffa, Inc., the parent company of the UFC, in 2012 and left in 2017, according to his LinkedIn account. In 2019, he formed Hendrick Sports and Entertainment, LLC. 

The governor’s office did not respond to inquiries about Hendrick’s statements about Nevada’s largest union, Culinary Local 226, which represents hotel workers in Las Vegas. 

In 2015, Hendrick, then general counsel to Zuffa, Inc. the mixed martial arts company founded by Station Casinos principals Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta in 2001, penned a letter to all Ultimate Fighting Championship members about efforts supported by the Culinary to unionize the fighters, calling the Culinary Union’s tactics “misguided.” 

“It hides the unions’ (sic) only real interest, which is organizing workers at Station Casinos in Las Vegas, NV. They hope that by applying pressure to the UFC that somehow it will increase their chances in Las Vegas,” Hendrick wrote. “Certainly, we will admit that their old tactics haven’t been working because they have been harassing Station Casinos, its employees and customers for over 15 years and they have yet to organize even one Station Casinos’ property.” 

The union, which has repeatedly asked gaming regulators to require Station Casinos to bargain in good faith following multiple union election wins at Station properties, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Hendrick worked in the gaming division of the Attorney General’s office for Frankie Sue Del Papa, who served as AG from 1991 until 2002. Hendrick also served as legal counsel for the Nevada Athletic Commission.   

Hendrick received his law degree in 1991 from the California Western School of Law in San Diego, California.

Hendrick’s appointment comes the same day as the announced departure of GCB member Phil Katsaros, whose term expires at the end of the month.  

Note: The original version of this story misidentified Katsaros as chair of the GCB. He was a member.

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.