LAS VEGAS (AP) - MGM Mirage Inc. has hired the former deputy director of the FBI to oversee security at its hotel-casinos as the gambling giant expands its operations into the Far East and possibly other countries.
Bruce J. Gebhardt, 56, who also was special agent in charge of FBI offices in San Francisco and Phoenix, was named senior vice president of global security in November, MGM Mirage executives confirmed Monday.
"His hands-on experience as a leader in law enforcement, security and investigations is truly a valuable asset as we continue to expand our company's focus both domestically and internationally," Terry Lanni, MGM Mirage chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
Since starting the job, Gebhardt said he's been "pleasantly surprised" with the security and the level of communication among Las Vegas megaresorts and local law enforcement.
"I've been very impressed and I'm not just trying to blow smoke," he said.
Outside of Las Vegas, Gebhardt said he'll build relationships with gambling regulators and police forces where MGM Mirage intends to open new casinos, such as the Chinese enclave Macau.
"I just got back from Hong Kong and Macau. It's a big learning curve, this whole industry," he said.
While casino companies have a history of hiring former law enforcement officers in their security operations, Gebhardt is the second high-ranking FBI official to land in Las Vegas recently.
Larry Medford, former assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, was hired as global security chief for Wynn Resorts.
Dave Shepherd, executive director of security at The Venetian resort on the Las Vegas Strip, said Gebhardt was hired not only for what he knows - but who he knows.
"It helps," he said. "People like Larry Medford and Gebhardt have a lot of international contacts."
Gebhardt wouldn't call Las Vegas a terrorist target but he did say the city's name came up a lot when he reviewed intelligence. The city is home to many of the world's largest resorts.
Gebhardt, who won the FBI's medal of valor for heroism, the highest recognition awarded by the FBI for actions taken in the line of fire, said most of the intercepted chatter was baseless and lacked specificity.
"That's not to say we shouldn't be prepared," he said. "One conversation, one plan - an accurate plan could have a devastating effect."