Remembering Bob Faiss
Submitted by Jennifer Roberts, Esq.
I wish that all of you could have known Bob Faiss, although I am aware that he touched many lives in the legal community. Bob was the ideal attorney. He was sharp, always prepared, and truly respectful to opposing counsel, board and commission members, legislators, and judges, even in the face of the most adversarial of proceedings. He was never egotistical or concerned about being in the spotlight. He also never said a bad word about anyone. He was one of the most respected men I’ve ever met, yet was so humble.
Bob Faiss was the founder of gaming law practice. He worked with then Governor Grant Sawyer when the present gaming regulatory system was created — the Nevada State Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission. He helped author many of the gaming laws currently on the books. Bob was also a consultant for several foreign countries that looked for guidance when deciding whether to legalize gaming in their jurisdiction.
Bob was the Chair of the Gaming Law practice group at Lionel Sawyer & Collins, where he worked for over 40 years of his legal career. He was a tireless representative for clients who were seeking gaming licensing, facing disciplinary action against a gaming license, or challenging a decision from an administrative body. One of his favorite clients was Mike Tyson, whom he represented before the Nevada Athletic Commission.
One of my favorite stories Bob told me was that he was invited to be part of a panel presentation on casino gaming regulation. It was a late afternoon session at a hotel surrounded by golf courses. Bob, of course, diligently prepared for the presentation, dressed in his suit and tie (when everyone else was in polo shirts and Bermuda shorts) and gave his hour-long presentation to the four people sitting in the audience. When he finished the panel presentation, he advised the four audience members that there was one concluding panel scheduled. The four members got up from their chairs to then set up their panel discussion. They were the last panel! Most attorneys would have been embarrassed and never repeated the story, but Bob sat through that last presentation with a smile on his face and proudly shared that story whenever he could.
Bob loved practicing gaming law so much that he helped develop the gaming law program at the William S. Boyd School of Law. There were so many students who took his courses who never had any interest in gaming law until they learned about it from Bob. He dedicated much of his time getting students to experience lobbying firsthand by having students testify before the Nevada State Assembly and Senate each legislative session. He had students appear before the Nevada State Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission so they could have the experience of being a gaming lawyer. One of his most cherished moments was when students were invited to the boardroom of MGM Resorts International to hear Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of the company, talk about his career. Another was when Bob took students to one of the VIP suites at the Venetian Casino Resort for a presentation from one of the company’s executives.
Bob wanted others to learn about his specialty practice area of gaming law. He loved seeing the gaming industry grow on both a national and international level, knowing that gaming lawyers helped drive such advancement. The industry grew from a suspect industry only permitted in one state to a legitimate entertainment business involving public companies, anti-money laundering efforts, and responsible gaming initiatives.
There will never be another Bob Faiss. However, he taught so many attorneys in this community the importance of integrity and reputation. When you ask someone about Bob Faiss, there will be nothing but positive remarks. He was a true inspiration and his impact on one of Nevada’s largest industries can never be duplicated. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
Jennifer Roberts worked with Bob Faiss at Lionel Sawyer & Collins for almost 11 years. She is a shareholder in the firm’s Gaming & Regulatory Practice Group and also teaches at the William S. Boyd School of Law.