Industry Team Leader(s)
- J. Kelly Duncan
- Thomas B. Shepherd III
Jones Walker's gaming practice, the largest in the southeastern United States, provides full-spectrum legal counsel to clients on gaming law. We represent all participants in the industry, including casinos, tribes, product manufacturers and suppliers, pari-mutuels, lottery vendors, sweepstakes and charities. We also represent other parties — such as investors, lenders and vendors — that have gaming-related interests.
Since the advent of legalized gaming in our region, the attorneys of Jones Walker have played important roles in the development of many of the laws and regulatory policies that govern the gaming industry in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. Our firm also has two lawyers who have served as presidents of the world’s two primary gaming law associations: the International Masters of Gaming Law and the International Association of Gaming Advisors.
Members of the team are listed in Chambers Global Guide, Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America, Louisiana Super Lawyers, Florida’s Legal Elite and other leading publications. Our gaming team partners have also received top peer-review ratings in Martindale-Hubbell and served as expert witnesses in litigation involving the gaming industry.
Our gaming team works with lawyers from throughout the firm’s many practice groups to deliver comprehensive legal advice. Our ability to provide coordinated counsel in corporate, finance, securities, tax, labor and employment, and other areas of law helps streamline our work and minimize the risks and steep learning curves that can arise when using multiple law firms for legal services.
To keep clients and gaming-related businesses informed about the latest industry news and legal developments that affect the gaming industry across the southeast, our Mississippi gaming lawyers publish http://msgaminglaw.com and our Florida gaming lawyers publish http://floridagamingwatch.com. Both are the state's most comprehensive gaming websites, which deliver daily updates on industry news, events and issues in each state and throughout the southeast.
Our lawyers advise clients in each of the primary gaming sectors:
We regularly advise major casino companies, gaming-related manufacturers and suppliers, investors and financial institutions. Our attorneys offer advice regarding all matters relating to the licensing, development, acquisition, financing and operations of land-based casinos and riverboats. Our clients include many of the largest gaming operators and gaming equipment manufacturers in the world, and our experience spans public-private leases, financings, land use approvals, statutory and regulatory interpretation and compliance, administrative hearings and litigation.
We advise casinos, truckstop casinos, route operators, manufacturers and other parties involved in video poker on a broad range of issues. Our lawyers have made numerous presentations to regional, national and international groups on issues relating to video poker regulations and compliance, permitting, accounting and reporting, device malfunctions and other issues.
We represent clients involved in horse racing, harness horse racing, greyhound racing, jai alai games and cardroom games. With a multi-layered understanding of the horse racing industry, our attorneys regularly and effectively help draft agreements between horsemen, breeders and horse tracks, among others. In addition to our work on behalf of clients, one of our partners teaches a class in gambling and pari-mutuel law at Florida State University College of Law.
We understand and appreciate the variations in law regarding tribal gaming issues, particularly as they relate to tribal-state relationships, Class II and Class III issues, and financing of tribal gaming facilities. We counsel our clients on the dynamic created by a tribe's sovereignty as it relates to its interactions with both the governmental and private sectors, and help find workable solutions for issues that arise. Our lawyers' extensive experience includes representing tribes and their wholly owned enterprises in myriad key commercial transactions, and counseling non-tribal companies in connection with contracts and other agreements to provide goods and services.
Our government relations attorneys in Washington, D.C., are integrally involved in federal legislation that pertains to financial services, internet gaming and the intersection of the two. We are also participating in the development and consideration of bills relating to internet gaming in those states in which we practice. This unique legislative and policy development experience allows us to provide both domestic and foreign clients a broad range of services in the face of ever-changing international, federal and state laws.
Key Areas of Service
Licensing, Regulatory, Compliance and Enforcement
Jones Walker attorneys have extensive experience advising and assisting gaming clients in connection with licensing, permitting, compliance and enforcement issues, and the interpretation of gaming statutes and regulations in the Gulf states. We represent clients in suitability applications and proceedings before state gaming regulatory bodies such as the Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, the Mississippi Gaming Commission, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and local commissions and authorities in Alabama.
Our attorneys routinely advise clients on operational issues, including negotiating and documenting a wide variety of commercial contracts that are implicated by the gaming laws, such as employment contracts, consulting contracts, non-competition agreements, confidentiality agreements, leases and purchase agreements. We also represent clients in matters ranging from patron disputes to Jones Act, personal injury and workmen's compensation claims arising out of gaming operations.
Lending and Finance
Our attorneys handle equity investments, secured and unsecured loans, debt and bond offerings, and restructurings for both development and continuing operations of gaming projects. We regularly serve as lead, local or special lending counsel on these transactions on behalf of gaming companies, financial institutions, private equity groups and other investors. Our attorneys can easily partner with other lawyers and work skillfully and cooperatively with clients' in-house and general counsel when it best serves the goal at hand.
Our attorneys regularly appear before legislative committees on behalf of gaming clients. We work closely with the legislative and executive-branch staff on state and federal levels, and have cultivated professional relationships with legislators and regulatory officials, helping write many of the laws and regulations that govern the gaming industry.
Jones Walker also provides coordinated, multidisciplinary counsel for clients in conjunction with our real estate, construction, development, zoning and land use, corporate and securities, labor and employment, tax, environmental, litigation, white-collar criminal defense, and other firm practice groups.
J. Kelly Duncan and Thomas B. Shepherd III, partners and team leaders of the firm's Gaming Practice Group, were each elected to leadership positions for the International Masters of Gaming Law ("IMGL") and the International Association of Gaming Advisors ("IAGA"), respectively. Jones Walker is the only firm with attorneys who have been elected as President of each of these premier gaming organizations.
J. Kelly Duncan served as President of the International Masters of Gaming Law until December 31, 2013. IMGL membership is by invitation only and with more than 270 members from 38 countries, the IMGL is a leading worldwide organization that is dedicated to education and the exchange of professional information concerning all aspects of gaming law. Mr. Duncan, who also served as a member of Jones Walker's board of directors, is one of only 10 gaming attorneys from the United States listed among the world's top gaming attorneys in the Chambers Global Guide since 2009. For 2011, he was selected as the "New Orleans, LA Best Lawyers Gaming Law Lawyer of the Year".
Thomas B. Shepherd III is the immediate past President of the International Association of Gaming Advisors (IAGA). IAGA's International Gaming Conference is one of the gaming industry's premier summits and brings together leaders of the gaming industry from all sectors - operators, suppliers, attorneys, accountants, investors, bankers, regulators and other advisors. For 2011, he was selected as the "Jackson, MS Best Lawyers Gaming Law Lawyer of the Year" and as "Lawyer of the Year in Mississippi" by the Mississippi Business Journal.
Marc W. Dunbar recently joined as a partner in our Gaming practice. Marc is also a member of both IMGL and IAGA. He heads the firm's Tallahassee office.
- Attorneys Author State Chapters of Gambling Guide
- Shepherd and Pace Co-Author Article for Casino Enterprise Management
- Jones Walker Expands Government Relations and Gaming & Administrative Law Practice Groups in Florida
- Panelist, "Gaming Law Minefield"
- "Internet Cafes: Where Do We Go From Here?"
- "State-by-State Analysis of Internet Cafes"
- "Florida's Public Policy on Gaming"
Marquette Elder's Advisor: Vol. 8: Iss. 2, Article 5