Las Vegas attorney Kirk Hendrick, who headed the attorney general’s gaming division in the late 1990s and spent nearly a decade as an executive and chief legal officer for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), will be appointed chairman of the Gaming Control Board by Gov. Joe Lombardo, chief of staff Ben Kieckhefer confirmed Wednesday.
Hendrick, 58, is expected to begin his four-year appointment at the end of January.
He replaces control board member Brittnie Watkins, who has been the agency’s acting chairwoman since the end of November after the departure of former chairman Brin Gibson.
Watkins has two years left in her term on the board.
The term for control board member Philip Katsaros expires at the end of January, giving Lombardo one additional appointment. Katsaros said at the conclusion of Wednesday's control board hearing that it would be his final meeting. The governor also must fill an open seat on the gaming commission that was vacated when Kieckhefer became his chief of staff.
“I’m delighted to announce that I’ve selected Kirk Hendrick as a member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and designated him as the board’s next chair,” Lombardo said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “With his sharp business acumen, outstanding legal background, and passion for Nevada gaming, I know that Kirk will excel in this critical leadership role.”
Hendrick will oversee the statewide, 400-person agency charged with regulating and enforcing the laws associated with Nevada’s largest industry. The three-person control board makes recommendations on licensing and other matters to the five-person Nevada Gaming Commission.
Hendrick joined the attorney general’s office in 1993 after two years in private practice.
During his first three years with the attorney general’s office, Hendrick headed a workers’ compensation fraud unit in Southern Nevada that was established by Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa. He was the sole criminal prosecutor responsible for prosecuting claimants, employers and medical providers suspected of workers' compensation fraud.
In 1996, Hendrick moved to the gaming division, which provides legal advice to the control board and gaming commission on licensing, regulatory matters and policy issues. In 1998, Hendrick became the senior deputy for the division’s Las Vegas office and was elevated to the chief deputy of the division on a statewide basis a year later.
Hendrick also took on the added role as the attorney general’s chief legal counsel for the Nevada Athletic Commission in 1998.
Hendrick returned to private practice in 2001 to focus on gaming matters and sports law, which primarily involved boxing and mixed martial arts.
In 2002, he joined Las Vegas-based Zuffa, the parent organization of the UFC, as its general counsel. He became the company’s chief operating officer a year later but also maintained private law practice with an emphasis on gaming and sports-related matters. In 2012, Hendrick was named Zuffa’s chief legal officer.
After UFC was sold for more than $4 billion in 2016, Hendrick left the company and founded Hendrick Sports & Entertainment, a consulting business, in March 2019.
In 2021, Hendrick donated $5,000 to Lombardo's campaign for governor, according to contribution and expenditure reports filed with the Secretary of State.
Hendrick graduated from UNLV in 1988 and earned his law degree from California Western School of Law in San Diego in 1991.