Reel Lives: Maine GCB Chair Steven Silver On Rulemaking, Consumers, And Pickleball

Brett Smiley

Every gambler has a story to tell. And so does every person who chooses to make a living in this unique industry.

In our “Reel Lives” series, Casino Reports shines a spotlight on people working in the gaming business, from executives, to analysts, to media members, and all points in between.

The subject of this interview: Steven Silver, Chair of Maine’s Gambling Control Board and an attorney who practices out of the Portland office of the law firm Littler Mendelson, P.C., where he focuses on ERISA litigation, sports and gaming law, and representing employers in federal and state court matters involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims.

Casino Reports (CR): Steve, where are you from originally and in what city are you based now?

Steve Silver (SS): I’m originally from Pittsburgh (born in Johnstown, home of the Great Flood!). I’m now in South Portland, Maine.

CR: What aspect of serving as the Chair of Maine’s Gambling Control Board has proved most surprising or unexpected to you?

SS: Things jump out when I think about this. One is just how tedious and lengthy the rulemaking process is. I certainly did not appreciate all the work that goes into rulemaking, whether it is implementing a brand new law or tweaking some existing rules. The other has been the open hostility of the Maine legislature to the state’s two casinos. The casinos have been great partners to the state in my opinion and delivered $70 million in tax revenue last year. But cutting the casinos out of mobile sports betting and now potentially out of iGaming makes no sense to me. Unfortunately, I don’t make policy. I just enforce it.

CR: What’s your biggest remaining career goal, either inside or outside the gaming space?

SS: I really enjoy my day job, which is being an employment attorney at the world’s leading labor and employment firm. Being the “gaming guy” has its perks as I get to set up all our clients’ raffles, sweepstakes, and office pools. So, continuing to build my career here and get some more jury trials under my belt is my immediate goal.

CR: What’s the number-one challenge, in your view, for the industry going forward?

SS: Broadly speaking, I think the industry needs to return to focusing on the consumer experience. I’ve seen too many sports betting platforms and casinos forget who helped them get so big. With the black market so easily accessible, why does the industry continue to normalize things like arbitrary bet limits, pushing out winners, refusing to honor wagers in the face of a book’s errors, etc.? We’re going to see extreme consolidation and if the few remaining operators become too corporate, gamblers will go elsewhere.

CR: Can you tell us about one of the more interesting cases that’s on your current legal docket?

SS: If it is interesting, that means I can’t talk about it. I have the privilege of working on some significant cases for incredible clients. Employment law is never boring. People treat each other in all sorts of mind-blowing ways inside workplaces. So, the cases always keep you on your toes.

CR: How do you like to spend free time away from work? Any interesting hobbies or secret talents?

SS: I will admit that I have succumbed to pickleball madness. If I could, I’d spend more time on the pickleball court. But I’ve got identical twin toddlers who keep me pretty busy.

Lightning Round!

Another person in gaming who has my utmost admiration is…

My OG gaming law pals, John Holden and Marc Edelman. They’ve been able to navigate through the din of armchair Twitter lawyers and their predictions and legal analyses are always spot on.

If you find me in a casino or on a casino app, the game I’m most likely to be playing is…

Craps. Hitting a point on a packed table is an incredible feeling.

If you close your eyes and picture a casino the first one that comes to mind:

Wynn in Las Vegas.

First word or phrase that comes to mind when you hear “cannibalization debate”:

Give it time.

Worst job I ever had was…

Clay court tennis maintenance guy. I was terrible at it.

First vehicle I drove…

I had a late 90s Saturn S-series where the bumpers were a different color than the body of the car. I loved that car.

Favorite sports team…

Pittsburgh Steelers

Best Adam Sandler movie is…

Billy Madison

You can find Steve on LinkedIn, where he may or may not express more objectively correct opinions about Adam Sandler’s filmography.