More than a decade ago Lance Holthusen, one of the founding fathers of the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance, asked an attorney with experience at the forefront of the state’s gaming regulation efforts to help further the cause of problem gambling in Minnesota. That attorney was Mary Magnuson, and she’s been an ever-reliable source of counsel and support for Northstar ever since.

Mary has been involved in legal issues related to gaming in Minnesota since the Minnesota racing commission was in its infancy. Much of her career has been spent ensuring that clients comply with gaming regulation and legislation.

“The more involved I got in the field, the more I began to understand that problem gambling was a concern,” says Mary. “I could see that it could be a potentially bigger problem as gambling continued to grow.”

Mary will be serving as NPGA’s president in 2014, a position she has held in the past. “I find Northstar’s work to be a challenge for several reasons,” says Mary. “First, we’re working toward developing some really good prevention and awareness materials and programs that can really make a difference in peoples’ lives. And secondly, it’s satisfying to move this organization from a very small, money-strapped operation to an organization that has additional resources to get messages out to maximize its effectiveness in helping people.”

Northstar also benefits from the efforts of Mary’s husband, John Apitz. John is an attorney and lobbyist who volunteers to assist Northstar in communicating the importance of its mission to state legislators in a position to appropriate vital funding for the organization.

“Mary and John both bring an important perspective to the work of Northstar, and we are very fortunate that they volunteer their efforts to help us accomplish our mission,” says Cathie Perrault, Northstar executive director. “They, along with all our board members and volunteers, really make a huge difference.”

Mary, who has worked with the Jacobson Law Group since 1992, has extensive legal experience in both the public and private sector. As managing attorney for the Gambling Division of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office she provided legal representation to all of Minnesota’s state agencies responsible for the regulation of gambling. She was a member of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Gambling, Chair of the Indian Gaming Committee of the North American Gaming Regulator’s Association, and reporter for the Canterbury Downs Commission.

Mary has represented Minnesota in the negotiation of gaming compacts and provided consultation and advice to several state governments and organizations on the issue. She has written several reports and articles on gaming issues in Minnesota and is a frequent speaker on gaming-related topics at conferences throughout the country.

Looking ahead to the future, Mary sees Internet gaming regulation as among the most important developments to watch. “Internet gaming poses some incredibly difficult policy questions and social questions,” says Mary. “Does the state want to permit any form of Internet gaming? Are they capable of regulating it? And from Northstar’s perspective, what might Internet gaming do to the incidence of problem gambling?”