DraftKings hires Las Vegas sports book operator Johnny Avello away from Wynn Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · October 1, 2018 at 8:06 pm Daily fantasy sports giant DraftKings has dipped into the Las Vegas casino market to build a sports betting operation, announcing Monday that it had hired longtime Wynn Resorts sportsbook director Johnny Avello as director of operations. Avello, 65, has spent 13 years at Wynn and has been involved in Las Vegas sports betting operations since the 1970s. He will have an initial role with DraftKings with oversight of retail sportsbook trading and risk management, according to a statement. “Johnny is considered a legend in Las Vegas,” said Matt Kalish, co-founder of DraftKings and the company’s chief revenue officer. “He is very respected in the gaming industry and brings well over 30 years of experience, insights and ideas to DraftKings. We’re committed to building a world-class sports betting operation by putting together amazing talent with diverse experiences and backgrounds, and Johnny’s arrival brings us one step closer to that goal.” A DraftKings spokeswoman said Avello started his position on Monday. A spokesman for Wynn Resorts said the company was not commenting on Avello’s departure. DraftKings did not make Avello available for comment. Prior to joining Wynn – Avello opened the company’ race and sports book at Wynn Las Vegas in 2005 – he spent 15 years at Bally’s Las Vegas and had stints with the former Sands Hotel and Las Vegas Hilton. Avello has become known in Las Vegas for setting “lines for entertainment purposes only,” such as the Oscars and Emmys. In an interview a year ago with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Avello he was always looking for new ways to enhance sports betting in his casino. “I am always thinking of new stuff,” Avelli said. “How to bet baseball, how to put multiple horse racing contests together with a pot.’’ Avello is a native of Poughkeepsie, New York. He first came to Las Vegas in 1979. DraftKings announced plans earlier this year to enter the race and sports book industry follow’s May’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed all U.S. states to legalize and regulate sports betting. The company has a sports betting deal with Resorts Atlantic City but is concentrating primarily on mobile sports wagering for now. In August, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement gave DraftKings and Resorts the green light to offer online and mobile sports betting. DraftKings became the first operator to go live with a mobile sports wagering application in the state. Avello is expected to help DraftKings establish its land-based sports betting operations. DraftKings was one of the giants of the daily fantasy sports universe along with FanDuel when Nevada gaming regulators said in October 2015 the activity meant the state’s definition of sports betting and the company needed to apply for a state gaming license. Both companies declined to apply and they were no longer allowed to offer the product within Nevada borders. A month earlier, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins participated in a panel discussion at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas that debated daily fantasy sports. Robins said the activity to was a game of skill, similar to chess or playing the stock market. In November 2016, the state’s Gaming Policy Committee, chaired by Governor Brian Sandoval, agreed with the ruling no changes were made to the state’s gaming regulations. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia have launched state-approved sports betting at casinos and racetracks. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are expected to soon follow. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.