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Day starts at 5:30 am for top lawyers at two gambling companies

Posted Jul 2, 2013 11:15 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Tim Donovan and Brian Larson are top lawyers for two well-known gambling companies.

Each starts the day at 5:30 a.m., partly in order to have time to focus on work before the day's onslaught of email, phone calls and issues begins. But the phone still rings, with calls from those who know they are likely to be at their desks early.

On some days, six of those calls may be from chief executive officer Gary Loveman of Caesars Entertainment, says general counsel Timothy Donovan. “He uses me more as a counselor, someone he can bounce ideas off. If he is troubled by something, he calls me," Donovan tells VEGAS INC.

He and Brian Larson, who serves as general counsel at Boyd Gaming, enjoy the challenge and the variety of their jobs and say the long hours are simply an expected part of an oversight role over matters ranging from customer disputes, regulatory matters and contract negotiations to major deals and litigation that could involve tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

Donovan would love to find a buyer for a 175-acre golf course in Macau that Caesars purchased in 2007 for $578 million. The plan had been to put a casino on the property, but it has been stymied by an inability to get requisite permission from local officials to do so.

Larson says the biggest change in the more than 22 years he has been general counsel is the amount of litigation his company–and others–face.

In 1990, he had to oversee about 150 cases. He won't say exactly how many Boyd Gaming is now involved in (Donovan says his company has 1,000 current cases), but says it's enough of an increase to pose a significant problem.

“I think it has becoming more and more of a sue-happy city,” said Larson of Las Vegas. “The amount of litigation has increased here, and it has increased in other jurisdictions. Some of the verdicts that have come here have been extraordinary. It really makes it an anti-business environment. I think it also hurts the state. You want to keep the companies that are here, and you want to attract new companies to come here.”

Updated at 12:40 p.m. to correct a reference to the gambling industry.

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