Publisher's Section

Who’s Who in Casinos & Sports Betting

The executives and officials behind the booming market in New York.

City & State presents Who's Who in Casinos & Sports Betting.

City & State presents Who's Who in Casinos & Sports Betting. Niurka Vidal; Saratoga Casino Hotel LLC; Justin Grasso, Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts

New York is in the midst of a gambling boom. Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018, the state has emerged as an epicenter for sports betting activity, outpacing Nevada and trailing only neighboring New Jersey. Meanwhile, the state is on track to authorize three more full-fledged casinos, with close to a dozen bidders entering the fray for a lucrative license in the downstate region. While the licenses won’t be awarded before the end of 2025, there’s already a number of existing facilities open for business, including upstate commercial casinos, tribal casinos, racetrack casinos and off-track betting sites. What’s more, a number of professional sports leagues and teams – many based in New York – have embraced betting, forming partnerships with major mobile sports betting platforms.

To keep track of all the players in these multibillion-dollar markets, City & State has compiled its first Who’s Who in Casinos & Sports Betting list, which was written and researched in partnership with journalist Lon Cohen. Among the individuals, who will be recognized at a City & State event on the morning of June 18, are key executives at major casino companies, government officials, government relations experts and others who are intricately involved in the evolving industry.

Abreu, Quenia A.

President and CEO, New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce
Abreu, Quenia A. / Niurka Vidal

Doling out up to three casino licenses for downstate New York is in the hands of the state Gaming Facility Location Board. Among its four members is Quenia A. Abreu, the co-founder and leader of the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce, who will help recommend recipients for full casino licenses, which allow for popular table games like blackjack and poker. Casinos in various locations are vying for these licenses, including Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, Hudson Yards and Times Square in Manhattan, and the former Trump Golf Links in the Bronx. A final decision isn’t expected before late 2025.

Addabbo Jr., Joseph

Chair, State Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee
Addabbo Jr., Joseph / Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.'s Office

When sports betting became legal in New York, it broke national records for the sheer amount of money bet in the first month. State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., who is the principal author of the state’s sports betting legislation, also chairs the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and is continuing to define the rules for betting of all types and how tax revenue is spent to fund state programs. Addabbo is one of the main drivers behind legislation that would legalize online gambling in the state. He’s also sponsoring legislation to close a loophole in state law that allows people under the age of 21 to participate in daily fantasy sports contests.

Agnew, Brian

Senior Vice President of Corporate Finance, Caesars Entertainment

Brian Agnew, who is in charge of investor relations at Caesars Entertainment, has the task of selling the company’s initiatives to the financial world. As of March, Caesars Sportsbook was the No. 3 mobile sports betting app in the state, with a $5.6 billion lifetime handle. In the slow march toward approving three downstate casino licenses, Caesars has enlisted Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and real estate developer SL Green Realty Corp. in a campaign that would raise a Caesars Palace casino in Times Square, dubbing the partnership the Coalition for a Better Times Square.

Allen, Jim

Chair, Hard Rock International

Jim Allen went from line cook to casino magnate in his career, rising to oversee major developments in The Trump Organization in Atlantic City and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and shepherding the transformation of the Seminole Tribe’s operations in Florida to owning the iconic Hard Rock brand. In an effort to attract one of the three full gambling licenses considered for downstate, Allen’s Hard Rock International has teamed up with Mets owner Steve Cohen, proposing an $8 billion project next to Citi Field in Queens called Metropolitan Park.

Anderson, Renie

Chief Revenue Officer and Executive Vice President, NFL Partnerships

In fits and starts over the past few years, the NFL had been slowly embracing the mobile sports betting industry. (Then the Raiders moved to Las Vegas and that pretty much sealed the deal.) In her position with the NFL, Renie Anderson has played a key role in developing partnerships with sports betting companies like Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel worth upward of $1 billion that allow advertising during broadcasts and use the NFL brand on their assets. Since legalization two years ago, the NFL sports betting handle in New York state is around $3 billion.

Asher, Joe

President of Sports Betting, IGT

IGT provides technology solutions for the gambling industry, and that includes the lucrative mobile sports betting sector where Joe Asher serves as division president. A sports betting Hall of Famer, Asher went from having a father who had a gambling addiction (Asher says he learned to count cards when he was a 12-year-old) to building and selling his own sportsbook outsourcing company. Asher testified in front of the state Legislature to help make mobile sports betting legal. He also believes that the industry has to be aware of the risks of addiction to a subset of the population as gambling becomes normalized.

Avella Sr., Michael

Partner, Dickinson & Avella
Avella Sr., Michael / Leigh Bullock

Michael Avella Sr.’s law firm is a registered lobbyist before the state Gaming Commission, which regulates all aspects of gambling activity in the state. Dickinson & Avella represents a number of companies, including New York Mets owner Steve Cohen’s Metropolitan Park, casino development firm Rush Street Gaming, and Resorts World Casino, which is proposing a casino complex at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Avella previously served as counsel in the state Senate, managing legislative matters related to taxation, racing and gambling, and budget concerns for both the state and New York City.

Baker, Richard

Governor, Executive Chair and CEO, Hudson’s Bay Company

When New York state revealed that it would bestow three casino licenses to the downstate region, Richard Baker hatched an idea to turn three floors of Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship location in Manhattan into a high-roller gambling palace. Baker, whose Hudson’s Bay Company owns Saks, discreetly enlisted support from area groups like Broadway theaters and fellow retailers for its proposed gambling establishment, which would harken back to Hollywood depictions like in James Bond’s “Casino Royale.”

Been, Vicki

Professor, New York University School of Law
Been, Vicki / New York University

With her deep understanding of land use and urban policy, Vicki Been brings her experience and expertise to the state Gaming Facility Location Board, which will recommend who among the many bidders should receive the three downstate gambling licenses. Been, a professor of law and affiliated professor of public policy at NYU, also served as New York City’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, lending her credence in the gambling license decisions.

Bellitti, Chris

Vice President of Corporate Communications, UFC

With a career that spans major media outlets and sports leagues – including stints at the WWE, Fox Sports and ESPN – Chris Bellitti has a wide range of experience in communications in the industry. In 2021, DraftKings became UFC’s first official sportsbook and daily fantasy partner, providing in-game promotions and in-broadcast odds integrations, along with UFC branding on its app. Bellitti has said the UFC is seeing meaningful growth in betting on its matches and that because fighters are international, it draws on fans from around the world who are more inclined to gamble.

Best, Jennifer

Secretary to the Speaker for Policy and Legislative Affairs, Assembly
Best, Jennifer / State Assembly

As secretary to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for policy and legislative affairs, Jennifer Best brings nearly two decades of state government expertise to the role. Best started out as a committee assistant and advanced to her current position in 2022. In that time, Best has been a key player in crafting the state’s gambling policies, having served as a staff member for the Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering, among other committees.

Billings, Craig

CEO, Wynn Resorts

Despite unloading its interactive sports betting licenses in New York, the first quarter of 2024 saw record revenue at Wynn Resorts, up 30% from the year before. Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings says the company is looking to double down on its brick-and-mortar success, eyeing the undeveloped western portion of the Hudson Yards neighborhood of Manhattan for its next big project. Wynn recently announced a partnership to create Wynn New York City, which is proposed to include a 5.6-acre park and a casino.

Blau, Jeff

CEO, Related Companies
Blau, Jeff / Karen Sterling

Credited with spearheading the Hudson Yards development – the biggest commercial construction project in New York City since Rockefeller Center was built almost a century ago – Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau is betting that to finish the job, his company and Wynn Resorts can snag one of only three coveted downstate casino licenses. They’ve submitted a $12 billion proposal to the state Gaming Facility Location Board for the next stage called Hudson Yards West, which would feature residences, office space, a park and – their ace in the hole – a flashy new casino.

Bluhm, Neil

Chair, Rush Street Gaming
Bluhm, Neil / Patrick McMullan/PMC via Getty Images

Real estate mogul Neil Bluhm founded Rush Street Gaming in the mid-1990s, and today it owns and operates a handful of destination casinos across the country, including Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady. Bluhm also founded its online gambling arm Rush Street Interactive in 2012. RSI impressed Wall Street with record first quarter results, and rumors abound that the multibillion-dollar company is looking to be acquired, possibly by DraftKings. RSI’s BetRivers recently bought an interactive poker platform, and with a bill proposed to legalize the game in New York, the company could take advantage of another lucrative revenue stream.

Boyle, Phil

President and CEO, Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting
Boyle, Phil / Provided

In 2023, former state Sen. Phil Boyle left Albany to become the CEO of Suffolk County’s regional off-track betting operation. Suffolk OTB has seen a turnaround from the brink of bankruptcy to profitability after it bought a former hotel off the Long Island Expressway in 2017, opened Jake’s 58 Casino, and packed it with slot machines. Boyle, an early supporter of putting a casino on Long Island, said the OTB would not seek out one of the three downstate gambling licenses. Instead, they’re doubling down on machines, with a $200 million expansion.

Bronner Jr., Kevin

Managing Director, Park Strategies
Bronner Jr., Kevin / Park Strategies

With over 15 years of experience in New York state gambling and racing policy, Kevin Bronner Jr. represents Park Strategies’ wagering clients – including video lottery, electronic gambling, sports betting and horse racing – before policymakers at all government levels. Park Strategies clients include horse racing and gambling tech companies like 1/ST Technology, American Wagering Inc. and the Capital District Region Off-Track Betting. Before joining Park Strategies, Bronner worked for the state Senate Finance Committee, where he negotiated the language of the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act and the creation of the state Gaming Commission.

Carone, Frank

Founder and Chair, Oaktree Solutions
Carone, Frank / Alex Towle Photography

In 2023, New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ former chief of staff Frank Carone founded lobbying firm Oaktree Solutions. Carone has made a series of splashy hires, including former City Hall staffers such as Ariel Palitz, who served as executive director of the city’s Office of Nightlife. His team is helping developer SL Green Realty Corp., said to be the city’s largest commercial landlord, in its high-profile bid to build a Caesars Palace casino in Times Square in partnership with rapper and producer Jay-Z through his entertainment company Roc Nation.

Carstanjen, Bill

CEO, Churchill Downs Inc.

CEO Bill Carstanjen, who began his career as an attorney for Cravath, Swaine & Moore, now runs the company that owns Churchill Downs, site of the famed Kentucky Derby, the horse race dubbed the most exciting two minutes in sports. In 2017, del Lago Casino was built in Seneca County after receiving one of only four upstate casino licenses. Del Lago eventually found its footing, attracting the attention of Churchill Downs International, which bought the casino’s operating company. The town of Tyre, where the casino is located, used casino revenue to zero out residents’ property taxes in 2024.

Cohen, Steve

Owner, New York Mets

Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen isn’t one to shy away when the chips are down. As if buying the New York Mets wasn’t risky enough, given the team’s unlucky recent streak, Cohen is going to bat with Hard Rock International, proposing a casino project next to Citi Field called Metropolitan Park. The development is in competition to attract approval for one of the three downstate gambling licenses, although the team has to convince legislators and the community to convert parkland to commercial zoning in order to make it work – and local state Sen. Jessica Ramos is against the plan.

Conners, Michael L.

Chief, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe
Conners, Michael L. / Brittany Bonaparte-AkwesasneTV

In his third term as chief of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Michael L. Conners oversees the tribe’s Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. And Conners is well-qualified for the job – he has an accounting background and served as finance director of the tribe’s bingo hall and casino, and he spent two years as an internal auditor for the Tribal Gaming Commission. The casino, located in the North Country region on the New York-Canada border, has table games, slot machines, restaurants and a hotel and recently opened a separate smoking room for gamblers.

Cordo, John

Founder and CEO, Cordo & Co.
Cordo, John / JP Elario

At Cordo & Co., John Cordo has been a lobbying force in Albany for the gambling industry. On behalf of his client, Resorts World New York City Casino, he helped its international operating company, Genting Malaysia Berhad, establish gambling at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens back in 2011. Cordo has been enlisted in the so-called racino’s bid for one of the three downstate casino licenses, proposing a $5 billion project to expand Resorts World New York City if it wins. Over his 35 years in Albany, Cordo has represented all aspects of gaming interests including the Saint Regis Mohawk tribe, the Hotel Trades Council, G-Tech, Horsemen, FanDuel and Everi and Resorts World New York City, and he has been at the forefront of legislation and campaigns that established VLTs, commercial casinos and sports betting.

Cornegy Jr., Robert E.

Founder and CEO, 610 Collective LLC
Cornegy Jr., Robert E. / Darren Laing

After spending over a decade on the New York City Council, representing District 36 in Brooklyn, Robert E. Cornegy Jr. launched the government relations firm 610 Collective LLC. He is now assisting developers of The Coney, a bid to bring a waterfront entertainment venue, hotel and casino to Coney Island by grabbing a downstate license. A member of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce board, Cornegy has deep roots in the borough and brings his advocacy for MWBEs and small businesses to the table, ensuring they are a top priority in the new project.

DeSalvio, Robert

President, Genting Americas East
DeSalvio, Robert / Dominick Totino

Robert DeSalvio heads up Genting Americas East, subsidiary of the international corporation that owns and operates Resorts World New York City Casino in Queens. In a bid to win one of the three licenses that would allow table games downstate, the casino has assembled a team that includes Queens native and rapper Nas to promote a $5 billion redevelopment of the property. The plan would add restaurants, a hotel, a 7,000-capacity entertainment arena, community space and an additional 350,000 square feet to the casino. DeSalvio also sits on the board of the New York Gaming Association, an industry trade group.

Dole, Tia

Chief 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Officer, Vibrant Emotional Health
Dole, Tia / Regina Fleming Photography

Tia Dole has worked at a number of organizations dedicated to assisting vulnerable people, proving a lifeline when they are in crisis. Dole, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology, manages the crisis hotline for New York City-based Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit that administers the statewide toll-free call center and text line that helps people in crisis, including those struggling with gambling addiction. Callers to the easy three-digit dialing code have access to addiction support and referrals to treatment providers across the state.

Domingo, Ed

President and Chief Operating Officer, Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts
Domingo, Ed / Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts

Ed Domingo is responsible for the day-to-day operations at the Empire City Casino in Westchester, an MGM Resorts facility at Yonkers Raceway. Along with fellow downstate “racino” Resorts World New York City, Empire City Casino is considered a favorite in the running to grab one of the three gambling licenses to be bestowed by the state. The casino unveiled its expansion plans in November, which include redeveloping and adding to its gambling floor to include live table betting, a 5,000-seat entertainment venue, a BetMGM sportsbook area, restaurants and lounges. Domingo also sits on the board of industry trade group the New York Gaming Association.

Duffy, Taryn

Vice President, Public Affairs, MGM Resorts Northeast Group
Duffy, Taryn / Sean Hamrock

As MGM’s regional vice president for public affairs, Taryn Duffy uses her legal, government and private sector experience to make sure that Empire City Casino in Yonkers wins the hearts and minds of the community both inside and outside of the casino while leading its participation in a number of regional nonprofit programs. With three full casino licenses on the table, Duffy is helping the racino to compete in its bid to expand operations to Vegas-style table games along with a complete expansion and redevelopment of the property. She is also a past chair of industry trade group the New York Gaming Association.

Edwards, Tracey

Senior Vice President and Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Sands New York
Edwards, Tracey / Viewpoint Photography

For its plan to bring a casino to Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, Sands has enlisted a number of advocates in its campaign. One of its strongest voices comes from Tracey Edwards, a former Huntington Town Council member who has established bona fides in the community, having also served as executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk and as Long Island regional director of the NAACP. Edwards joined the team at Sands New York last fall to oversee corporate social responsibility initiatives for the resort in its bid for one of three downstate casino licenses.

Engelbert, Cathy

Commissioner, WNBA

The WNBA has been powering forward, with Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announcing the league will expand to 16 teams by 2028 and players will be taking charter flights to games starting this year, solving a logistics issue. The anticipation for this season is high with superstar athletes joining the league, like No. 1 pick Caitlin Clark, whose Indiana Fever jersey sold out in a flash. FanDuel was the first fantasy sports app to become an official partner with the WNBA and then extended its partnership to include its online sportsbook while tapping into the league’s broadening fanbase.

Etna, Daniel

Co-Chair, Sports Law Group, Herrick
Etna, Daniel / Herrick

Daniel Etna’s team at Herrick has handled a number of high-profile cases in sports law across the country, advising clients like the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in sharing the NFL stadium there. An expert in sports betting law, including stadium sportsbook arrangements, he is called upon to comment on the issue for major news outlets, especially with the rise of legal mobile sports gambling. Etna has worked with the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets, helped D.C. United to establish a sportsbook and also provided guidance on online horse racing wagering in the U.S. and overseas.

Featherstonhaugh, James

Partner, Featherstonhaugh, Clyne & McCardle LLP
Featherstonhaugh, James / Christine Crawford

James Featherstonhaugh has decades of experience in the New York wagering world, having served as president of industry trade group the New York Gaming Association, as a lobbyist for the racing industry in New York and as a minority owner in the Saratoga Casino Hotel. The upstate racino has joined a consortium of developers to bid for one of the three casino licenses destined for downstate properties with a $3 billion proposal to build a casino resort at Coney Island in Brooklyn.

Feig, Matthew

Chief Operating Officer, NYRA Bets

In April, Matthew Feig was promoted to chief operating officer of NYRA Bets, the online betting arm of the New York Racing Association, which operates three thoroughbred horse racing tracks in the state, including Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. In addition to its own NYRA Bets platform, NYRA has agreements with online sportsbooks, including BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook. Feig, who joined NYRA in 2015, played an integral role in the 2016 rollout of NYRA Bets as a national ADW, and helped to grow it to 36 states. 

Fernandez, Jeff

Vice President of Business Development and Ventures, New York Jets

Jeff Fernandez helped the New York Jets achieve multimillion-dollar long-term partnership deals with both WynnBet and FuboTV’s nascent gambling division in 2021. One year later, FuboTV pulled the plug on its gambling app and pulled out of their deal. The Jets sued. Now, WynnBet’s online operations are falling like a house of cards, and what that means for their partnership remains to be seen. (ESPN BET agreed to take over WynnBET in February.) In the meantime, the Jets have been leveraging customer data for years to help sports betting companies like BetMGM target potential customers in New Jersey.

Ferreras-Copeland, Julissa

Partner, Hollis Public Affairs
Ferreras-Copeland, Julissa / Greg Kessler

When billionaire hedge fund manager and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen proposed a casino complex next to Citi Field called Metropolitan Park, he secured a team of government relations agencies to boost his chances of securing one of three available downstate licenses. His roster includes Hollis Public Affairs and former New York City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, whose old district just happened to cover Flushing and Willets Point, where the stadium and proposed development are situated. When she was on the council, Ferreras-Copeland voted in favor of redevelopment of the site’s parking lot and says she continues to support it.

Fischer, Brad

Of Counsel, Orrick
Fischer, Brad / Orrick

When a company wants to navigate the intricacies of gambling laws and regulations in New York state, Orrick counts as one of the top law firms they turn to. Brad Fischer brings his wealth of experience inside Albany to his sports betting clients like DraftKings and FanDuel seeking to do business in the state. Prior to joining the firm, Fischer worked at the state Gaming Commission, where he helped select applicants for upstate casino licenses and served as counsel to the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering.

Freeman, Scott

General Manager, Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort

One of the northernmost casinos in New York state, Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort nearly touches the Canadian border on the lands of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. Scott Freeman manages the casino and hotel, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The casino also just expanded its footprint, acquiring an adjacent hotel along with 18 acres of land. An experienced casino operator, Freeman was president of Tioga Downs in 2016 when it became the first nontribal Vegas-style casino in the state.

Gerrity, Samuel

CEO, Saratoga Casino Holdings LLC
Gerrity, Samuel / Saratoga Casino Holdings LLC

Since joining his family’s company, Samuel Gerrity has had an eye on expansion. The company, which operates the Saratoga Casino Hotel, is part of a proposed project to build a casino in Coney Island, hoping to attract one of three downstate licenses with a seaside resort dubbed The Coney. He’s the third generation of Gerritys to run Saratoga Casino, which sees an average of 1.5 million visitors annually and is marking its 20th anniversary this year. The company also has casinos in Colorado and Mississippi.

Glaser, Howard

Global Head of Government Affairs and Legislative Counsel, Light & Wonder
Glaser, Howard / Light & Wonder

Howard Glaser knows the New York market, having worked as a top aide for then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a lead role to make downstate casino licenses a reality. He claims that once approved, the three metro-area casinos will rival all of Las Vegas, calling New York the “holy grail” for operators. At Light & Wonder, a technology platform that powers games like poker, Glaser is aiming to make more states amenable to his company’s bread and butter. Although he supported it, Glaser gave long odds to the passage of a New York state bill to legalize online poker.

Greenblatt, Adam

Greenblatt, Adam / BetMGM

BetMGM was one of the first company to launch a mobile sportsbook app in New York in 2022, mere days after the market became legal. With enormous marketing dollars spent to capture the eyeballs (and fingertips) of bettors, it’s a race to the top of the betting app heap for CEO Adam Greenblatt against competitors such as DraftKings and FanDuel. A lot of those dollars were spent by BetMGM to become a sports betting partner of the Knicks and the Rangers, giving them exposure during games. That bet paid off since both teams made it to the playoffs this season.

Guelli, Pete

Chief Operating Officer, Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres

While retail betting on sports is still not allowed in New York state, the Buffalo Bills got ahead of the game partnering with Caesars Sportsbook to create a branded lounge in Highmark Stadium in 2022. Brand new team executive Pete Guelli – who is in the same role with both the Bills and the Sabres in Buffalo – will have the chance to create more opportunities for sports betting partnerships when the new Bills stadium is completed. Over at the Sabres stadium, FanDuel is the official sponsor. Along with Caesars, FanDuel is also an official sports betting partner of the Buffalo Bills.

Gural, Jeffrey

Chair and Principal, GFP Real Estate
Gural, Jeffrey / GFP Real Estate

A real estate mogul whose company develops commercial properties, Jeffrey Gural also owns the Tioga Downs casino, one of four that received a state license to run table games. While the casino property was recently sold to an investment group, Gural says he’s as committed as ever to the business. Vernon Downs, his other New York harness racetrack, almost closed last year, but was saved by a last-minute legislative deal. Gural is also managing partner at the Meadowlands Racetrack, which in 2018 partnered with FanDuel in opening a sportsbook and online sports betting for New Jersey.

Halbritter, Ray

CEO, Turning Stone Enterprises
Halbritter, Ray / Oneida Indian Nation

Through Turning Stone Enterprises, CEO Ray Halbritter is responsible for various properties for the Oneida Indian Nation, which owns four casino resorts in New York. He’s embarking on a $370 million expansion at the flagship Turning Stone Resort Casino this year, adding conference space, hotel and restaurants.The largest capital improvement project for the company in 20 years, it also inspired a rebranding from Oneida Nation Enterprises to Turning Stone Enterprises last fall. Turning Stone recently dropped Caesars Sportsbook branding from its casino lounges, which will now be under a new TS Sports brand.

Hershman, Michael

CEO, Soloviev Group
Hershman, Michael / Udo Spreitzenbarth

Teaming up with the operators of Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, the Soloviev Group has put together the Freedom Plaza proposal, a mixed-use development spanning six acres near the U.N. building that now includes a casino. The partners are in a race with five other players in Manhattan alone who are vying for one of the three downstate casino licenses. The parcel, which was purchased from Con Edison in 2000, has lain fallow since then. Soloviev Group CEO Michael Hershman sweetened the pot by announcing that the residential portion will include more than 500 affordable housing units.

Hession, Eric

CEO, Caesars Digital

When sports betting became legal in New York, Caesars wasted no time in securing an official sponsorship with one of the most iconic sports arenas in the world, Madison Square Garden. The deal allows for exclusive member space during games and advertising on MSG Networks. The company also won branding rights to the Buffalo Bills stadium sportsbook lounge. In a world where attention spans are getting infinitesimally short, Caesars announced its new FireBets products to capture more micro-betting opportunities during live games.

Holliday, Marc

Chair and CEO, SL Green Realty Corp.
Holliday, Marc / SL Green Realty Corp.

If SL Green Chair and CEO Marc Holliday has anything to say about it, there will be a Caesars Palace in Times Square. Holliday has locked arms with Caesars Entertainment and Jay-Z in a push for one of three downstate gambling licenses, making a case for their casino to be built in the spot that hosts one of the biggest parties of the year on New Year’s Eve. Landlords are rallying to the cause, but some residents, fearing an increase in crime and congestion, are pushing back against the triumvirate’s plan to build the entertainment complex in their neighborhood.

Jacobs, Louis “Lou” M.

Co-CEO, Delaware North
Jacobs, Louis “Lou” M. / Delaware North

Co-CEO Lou Jacobs shares responsibility for running the family-owned Delaware North, a multinational hospitality and gambling operator based in Buffalo. Among the many properties it owns and manages in the New York area are Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack and Hamburg Gaming, which recently opened indulge, a new multiconcept restaurant. The company also partnered with Suffolk OTB on Long Island in 2016 to purchase a hotel property and convert it into Jake's 58 Hotel & Casino. Outside New York, the company completed the $320 million expansion of Southland Casino Hotel in Arkansas and an expansion of Gate City Casino in New Hampshire.


Founder, Roc Nation
Jay-Z / Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Jay-Z is in the perfect state of mind to build a gambling empire in the Empire State. He’s an investor in Fanatics, the sports branding company that just this year entered the New York market with its mobile sportsbook. Not satisfied with simply making it in online sports betting, Jay-Z, through his entertainment company Roc Nation, aims to build a Caesars Palace casino in Times Square. He’s joining forces with real estate developer SL Green Realty Corp. and Caesars in a bid for one of the three downstate licenses, with the consortium calling itself the Coalition for a Better Times Square.

Jenkins, Patrick B.

President, Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates
Jenkins, Patrick B. / caliyorkphotography

Patrick B. Jenkins founded Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates in 2009, becoming a well-connected lobbyist and political consultant and a go-to for the gambling industry, having helped DraftKings and FanDuel navigate the path through Albany to New York state’s legalization of mobile sports gambling. Jenkins worked to create goodwill for Resorts World New York City casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in the Jamaica, Queens, community as it was being planned. His firm also works with Resorts World New York City owner Genting Group as it now seeks one of the downstate casino licenses for the racino.

Jewett, Christopher

Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, Bally’s Corp.
Jewett, Christopher / Bally’s Corp.

Buffalo-based Christopher Jewett parlayed a nearly decadelong career at Delaware North to become senior vice president of corporate development at Bally’s Corp. Bally’s is one of the official sports betting sponsors of the New York Yankees, and the company wants one of three downstate casino licenses. The company took over the 300-acre Trump Golf Links in the Bronx and rebranded it Bally’s Golf Links. Its big gamble is to build a casino, hotel and entertainment venue on the property if it can get backing from New York City and state lawmakers to convert some of the park space for that use.

Kane, Michael

President and Executive Director, New York Gaming Association

A trade group that represents nine land-based casinos around the state, the New York Gaming Association represents the interests of its members’ in-person gambling facilities. Michael Kane, who previously served as CEO of Western Regional OTB, has testified in front of the state Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering on behalf of the association on the possibility of expanding in-person sports betting, currently only allowed at the four upstate casinos with full licenses. The industry group has historically opposed independent online gambling initiatives, saying they compete with land-based casinos in the state.

Katz, Dan

Executive Vice President and General Counsel, The Parkside Group
Katz, Dan / The Parkside Group

A powerhouse lobbyist and political advocate, Dan Katz has worked to elect like-minded leaders to state government and shape policy, including his work to pass the landmark mobile sports betting legislation in New York state on behalf of the Democrats who supported it. When the state fell behind others, Katz used his intellect, research skills and deep connections in Albany to help craft the regulations that have contributed over $1.5 billion in state tax revenue since legalization of sports betting in 2021.

Kaufman-Ross, Scott

Executive Vice President, Media and Gaming, NBA

A 12-year veteran in the NBA, Scott Kaufman-Ross was recently promoted to executive vice president for media and gaming, now overseeing the NBA’s sports betting, data distribution and fantasy sports businesses. Kaufman-Ross previously built the league’s relationships with platforms like FanDuel, DraftKings, MGM, Caesars and more. After the NBA took an equity stake in AI-driven micro-betting platform nVenue, Kaufman-Ross was given an observer seat on the board as the league explores cutting-edge technology that maximizes fan engagement through live in-game betting.

Kim, Soo

Chair, Bally’s Corp.
Kim, Soo / iRolls Multimedia LLC

Soo Kim, chair of the gambling and entertainment company Bally’s Corp., has a lot of his chips on the table. The company is considering a bid to take the company private from its largest shareholder New York hedge fund Standard General and Kim himself. It’s also in the middle of building a $1.74 billion casino in Chicago, and last year it took over management of Trump golf course in the Bronx in hopes of winning one of the three downstate gambling licenses to build a casino on the property.

King, Matt

CEO, Fanatics Betting and Gaming

When the sports licensing company Fanatics decided to get into the betting game, it poached former CEO Matt King away from FanDuel to help with the launch of its online sportsbook. King says the time is ripe for disruption in sports with technology able to give fans a better experience, engaging with the games and players they love. The company has been increasing its market share by acquisition, recently closing on a deal to buy PointsBet USA, allowing the New York City-headquartered company to launch its app to players in the state in February.

Kudon, Jeremy

President, Sports Betting Alliance
Kudon, Jeremy / Gittings Global

If a state legalized online sports betting, odds are that Jeremy Kudon had a hand in making it happen. The lawyer got FanDuel and DraftKings – two competing real money fantasy sports apps – to join forces in a pivotal legal battle, arguing that fantasy sports was a game of skill, not chance. After he saw the fight go up to the U.S. Supreme Court, he then helped make mobile sports betting legal state by state using a similar argument. He has an uncanny ability to unify disparate groups, including sports leagues that were previously against gambling but have come to support it.

Lance, Bill

Secretary of State, Chickasaw Nation

Bill Lance is heavily involved in the business of the Chickasaw Nation. He helps run the operations of the Oklahoma-based tribe’s holdings and is also on the board of Global Gaming Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation that manages its gambling, racing and entertainment initiatives. Lance also serves as the Chickasaw Nation’s first secretary of state. The Chickasaw Nation has partnered with Thor Equities, Legends and Saratoga Casino Hotel to build a proposed $3 billion casino resort at Coney Island in Brooklyn if they win one of the downstate gambling licenses.

Lesane, Jamaal

Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Interim President and COO, Madison Square Garden Sports Corp.

General Counsel for MSG Sports Jamaal Lesane now has a new role at the company, recently being chosen as its interim president and chief operating officer. When you are in a leadership role at Madison Square Garden, one of the most visible arenas in all of sports with two of the most valuable teams in their respective leagues in the Knicks and the Rangers, the sportsbook industry is going to come knocking on your door. MSG Sports signed multiyear marketing partnerships with both Caesars Sportsbook and BetMGM when mobile sports betting became legal in New York.

Levine, Randy

President, New York Yankees
Levine, Randy / New York Yankees

This year, Randy Levine began his 25th year as New York Yankees president, a role in which he has overseen major initiatives for the organization, including the building of a new state-of-the-art stadium in 2009. Levine, who served as a deputy mayor of New York City under Rudy Giuliani, was a vocal supporter of legal sports betting. The Yankees were also part of a powerful consortium of sports betting companies and pro leagues pushing for legalization. FanDuel and Bally’s are both official sports betting partners of the team. Levine said the team would be open to an in-person sportsbook lounge at Yankee Stadium in the future.

Liebman, Bennett

Government Lawyer in Residence, Albany Law School
Liebman, Bennett / Provided

Bennett Liebman has extensive experience at the intersection of state government and gambling. He served as special counsel to then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, was a member of the state Racing and Wagering Board (the precursor to the state Gaming Commission) and served as deputy secretary for racing and gaming under then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Liebman is frequently called on by the media to comment on current events around gambling and horse racing. A horse racing expert, he has also written numerous articles on the topic and once was a New York Times horse racing blogger.

Mackey, Troy

Coordinator, Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee
Mackey, Troy / Provided

Troy Mackey is the committee coordinator and legislative director for gaming to Assembly Member J. Gary Pretlow, chair of Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering. In his role, Mackey served as a lead negotiator for Pretlow and was involved in crafting mobile sports gambling legislation with the governor’s office and both legislative branches. He continues to oversee all gambling matters, including work on legislation to support horse racing and breeding, and authorization for an 1,000 additional video lottery devices at Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino on Long Island.

Maney, James

Executive Director, New York Council on Problem Gambling
Maney, James / Blueyed Shutter Photography

In the past decade, opportunities to gamble in New York state have exploded, with the authorization of full gambling licenses and then again two years ago with the legalization of mobile sportsbooks, making James Maney’s job heading up the New York Council on Problem Gambling that much more pressing. Maney is often the one advocating for harm reduction policies when conversation steers toward expanding access to gambling in New York. Maney says that the budget for available resources is just a fraction of the take the state brings in from its gambling levy.

Maroko, Rich

President, New York Hotel and Gaming Trades Council
Maroko, Rich / HTC

Rich Maroko, an attorney with a focus on labor and employment law, fights for his union’s hospitality workers in a region where there is an opportunity to add thousands of members with the inevitable construction of new casinos. Ten years ago, the union secured its first casino contract at Resorts World New York City. The state is now mulling who will get three additional full casino licenses downstate, creating more jobs. In response, the AFL-CIO-affiliated union added “gaming” to its name to recognize this new subset of workers it hopes to add to its ranks.

McCarthy, Patrick

Managing Director, Mercury
McCarthy, Patrick / Mercury

Patrick McCarthy is a prominent figure in New York’s gambling policy, leveraging his extensive experience in government – he was previously a member of then-Gov. George Pataki’s senior staff – and as a communications consultant. For the [ast 10 years he has been crafting legislative and PR strategies for Western Regional Off-Track Betting and Batavia Downs. His expertise is not confined to upstate interests. Mercury is working with Wynn Resorts, which is partnering with Related Companies on a proposed Hudson Yards casino project called Wynn New York City, competing for one of the downstate gambling licenses.

McCarthy, Paul

Assistant Deputy Counsel, State Senate Majority Counsel’s Office
McCarthy, Paul / Lifetouch, Inc

Outside Albany’s committees on racing and wagering, legislative staffers bring essential legal perspectives to the crafting of casino-related legislation. One under-the-radar but highly involved official is Paul McCarthy, who helped draft New York’s mobile sports betting program, which has already generated nearly $2 billion in revenue. McCarthy also negotiated the downstate casino authorization, authorization for half a billion dollars in financing to renovate Belmont Park, institutional reforms at the Western Regional Off-Track Betting and the Buffalo Bills stadium deal.

Morrison, Mike

Vice President, Sports Betting and Fantasy, ESPN
Morrison, Mike / ESPN

Mike Morrison, who has been with ESPN since 2007, was named vice president of ESPN BET and ESPN Fantasy in 2021, a role in which he has helped to initiate a partnership with PENN Entertainment worth $1.5 billion for his company. The deal struck last year made ESPN the highest-profile media outlet to put its name on a sportsbook app. Morrison’s job now is to figure out how to integrate consumer betting into ESPN’s programming. ESPN BET is already available in 17 states, but New Yorkers will have to wait until this fall before they can start betting on the app.

Moschetti Jr., Peter J.

Founding Member, Anderson, Moschetti & Taffany PLLC

Peter J. Moschetti Jr., a trial attorney with a specialty in personal injury and criminal defense and a former prosecutor in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, is a founding member of Capital Region law firm Anderson, Moschetti & Taffany. For over a decade, Moschetti has served as one of six members of the state Gaming Commission, whose job it is to regulate gambling of every type, including horse racing, the state lottery, sports wagering and interactive fantasy sports.

Naudon, Carlos P.

President and CEO, Ponce Bank
Naudon, Carlos P. / Ponce Bank

An involved member of his community who is the immediate past chair of The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Carlos P. Naudon is a trained attorney and certified public accountant who is currently CEO of Bronx-based Ponce Bank. Naudon, an immigrant himself, said he takes pride in his commitment to the community he serves through his small business and banking relationships. In December, Naudon was unanimously appointed to the state Gaming Facility Location Board, which has the responsibility of suggesting to the state Gaming Commission who will get the three hotly contested downstate casino licenses.

Nephew, Kevin

President and CEO, Seneca Gaming Corp.
Nephew, Kevin / Seneca Gaming Corp.

In 2020, Kevin Nephew was named president and CEO of Seneca Gaming Corp., becoming the first Seneca Nation member to head up the company, which includes three Class III casinos: Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls, Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino in Salamanca and Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo. In addition to its Las Vegas-style establishments, the casinos recently added sportsbooks to their offerings. The Seneca Nation is currently in the middle of negotiating a new long-term gambling compact with New York state, one that has seen two temporary extensions as negotiations continue.

Oppenheimer, Joshua

Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig
Oppenheimer, Joshua / Greenberg Traurig

Greenberg Traurig’s Joshua Oppenheimer focuses his practice on clients from a variety of gambling and sports-related industries, including lobbying efforts for MGM Resorts, operators of Empire City Casino in Yonkers – which is one of the racinos seeking one of the three downstate casino licenses. He also represents the New York Racing Association. Over the years, Oppenheimer’s work in government relations has given him expertise in racing and gambling issues, helping put together legislation related to racing, casinos and mobile sports betting in New York.

Ortiz, Jason

Co-Founder and CEO, Moonshot
Ortiz, Jason / John Rossi

Clients of Jason Ortiz’s Moonshot lobbying firm include the New York Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, a union that represents thousands of workers in hotels and casinos across the New York metropolitan region, a number that will increase once the state approves three more downstate licenses. Moonshot also represents two of the companies who want a downstate license to build Las-Vegas style casinos: Genting Group, owner of Resorts World New York City at Aqueduct Raceway, and Mets owner Steve Cohen's bid to build a casino in Queens. .

Paterson, David

Senior Vice President, Las Vegas Sands
Paterson, David / Provided

Las Vegas Sands jumped into the fray for one of the three downstate casino licenses in 2022, settling on a proposal to put its casino at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. The decision has not been without drama, the latest being a court ruling that blocked the Sands 99-year lease deal with the county in addition to organized community opposition. On the casino operator’s side is former Gov. David Paterson, currently a senior vice president at the company, who has become a key player in the casino industry in the state. 

Pineault, Ray

President and CEO, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment

In 2021, Ray Pineault was named interim CEO of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, the Mohegan Tribe’s gambling arm, which owns and operates several casino properties across the U.S. and in South Korea. He was given the top job permanently in 2023, rising to the position after managing the day-to-day operations at the tribe’s first and largest casino, Mohegan Sun, located in Connecticut. Last year, Mohegan joined real estate developer Soloviev Group to develop Freedom Plaza, a casino project next to the U.N. building in Manhattan in a bid for one of the three downstate New York licenses.

Pretlow, J. Gary

Chair, Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering
Pretlow, J. Gary / Assembly

In his more than 30 years serving on the Assembly, J. Gary Pretlow has been a member of the Committee on Racing and Wagering, serving as its chair since 2004. Notably, he’s credited with saving the state horse racing industry with the passing of video lottery terminals legislation, thus increasing purses at tracks while creating the concept of so-called racinos. There is not a part of legal gambling in New York he hasn’t had a hand in, whether it’s introducing mobile sports gambling legislation or creating a total of seven full gambling casino licenses – and now pushing a bill to legalize online gambling in the state.

Previte, David

Principal, Hinman Straub
Previte, David / Paul Castle, Castle Photography

David Previte, who previously served as chief counsel to the state Senate majority, now provides government relations services to a variety of clients, including key players in New York’s expanding casino sector. Previte counsels racing and gambling entities through licensure, legislative and regulatory matters including mobile sports betting, commercial and Native American Class III and off-track betting operations. Hinman Straub counts among its clients the Catskill Regional Off-Track Betting, FanDuel and the Seneca Nation of Indians, which is negotiating a new long-term gambling compact with New York.

Price, Jeff

Chief Commercial Officer, PGA of America

For the past 10 years, Jeff Price has led the PGA’s marketing and communications, including sponsorships and merchandising. In 2021, the golf league gave official rights to distribute real-time data from the PGA Championship to content provider, IMG ARENA for its Golf Event Centre, which was picked up by major sportsbooks like FanDuel. Price, a former publisher of the Sporting News, announced in April a multiyear deal that made ESPN BET the official sports betting sponsor of the PGA Championship through 2026, the first men’s golf league to take on a sportsbook as a sponsor.

Rabinowitz, Stuart

Senior Counsel, Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone LLP
Rabinowitz, Stuart / Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone LLP

A former president of Hofstra University and ex-dean of its School of Law, attorney Stuart Rabinowitz served on the state Gaming Facility Location Board in 2014, helping to choose from among the bidders the final location of four upstate casino licenses. He is giving it another go, as he was appointed to serve on the same board that will ultimately recommend which of the many bidders will get the three available downstate licenses. Notably, his old employer, Hofstra University, opposes one of the bidders looking to put a casino at the nearby Nassau Coliseum site.

Ramos, Jessica

State Senator
Ramos, Jessica / John Nacion/Getty Images

State Sen. Jessica Ramos doesn’t sit on the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, but she has emerged as a key player in the competition for one of three downstate casino licenses. In late May, she came out against Mets owner Steve Cohen’s bid in Queens, saying she would support a convention center and hotel but that her constituents don’t want a casino. The move by Ramos, who’s seen as a potential candidate for mayor of New York City, reflects the local support that downstate casino bidders must secure.

Rechler, Scott

Chair and CEO, RXR
Rechler, Scott / Provided

Scott Rechler, who is in the middle of a three-year term as board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, also has a busy day job as CEO of the Long Island-based RXR, with billions of dollars in commercial real estate assets under management. To say the company has some pull in the region is an understatement. So it makes sense for Las Vegas Sands to partner with RXR in its bid to build a casino at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, which has been working to redevelop the site in one way or another for the past 20 years.

Reeg, Tom

CEO, Caesars Entertainment

At first, Tom Reeg said it was “extremely unlikely” that Caesars would bid for a casino license in downstate New York. Then they did an about-face, joining Jay Z’s Roc Nation and real estate developer SL Green Realty Corp. to put a Caesars Palace smack dab in the middle of Times Square. The partners, calling themselves the Coalition for a Better Times Square, hope that the city that never sleeps will also do a little gambling. Caesars sweetened the pot by inviting local businesses to join the Caesars Rewards gift card network, allowing members to use credits at participating merchants.

Reynolds, Jeffrey L.

President and CEO, Family and Children’s Association
Reynolds, Jeffrey L. / Sara Miller

Jeffrey Reynolds has been a leader in helping at-risk individuals on Long Island for decades, having run nonprofits assisting those dealing with hate crimes, addiction and AIDS. Currently, Reynolds leads the Family and Children’s Association, supporting over 35,000 people struggling with mental health and substance abuse. Reynolds says easy access to online gambling leads to an increase in gambling issues. FCA recently opened two gambling support centers in response. He has also engaged Las Vegas Sands about how to address gambling issues in its bid for a full casino license in Nassau County.

Rhoda, Bill

President, Global Planning, Legends

Bill Rhoda joined Legends Global Planning in 2011, and he leads major projects for the food service management company that was jointly launched by the late former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys. Rhoda, who previously worked at Conventions Sports & Leisure, a company that advises venues for big events, announced that Legends was going to enter a competitive bid for one of three downstate casino licenses. Along with Thor Equities, Saratoga Casino Holdings and the Chickasaw Nation, Legends is developing a $3 billion resort and casino property at Coney Island in Brooklyn.

Robins, Jason

Chair and CEO, DraftKings

Because of its position at the forefront of online fantasy sports, DraftKings was able to dominate the mobile betting market immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. When Jason Robins helped launch the fantasy sports app in 2011 – while living in the spare bedroom of one of his fellow co-founders – it was hard to imagine the behemoth the company would become. DraftKings struck a deal to become the official betting partner of the New York Racing Association. But sportsbooks are just the tip of the iceberg, according to Robins, who sees online gambling in New York as the real path to explosive growth.

Schlosser, Chris

Senior Vice President, Emerging Ventures, Major League Soccer

One of the mandates Chris Schlosser has in his position with Major League Soccer is developing new revenue channels and deepening fan engagement through digital technology. Schlosser, who has been leading digital expansion at MLS since he came on in 2008, designed its digital plan and these days is innovating with sports betting. MLS integrated with to give fans analysis for upcoming games on a section of the league’s website dedicated exclusively to betting. Additional partnerships with sports AI and data companies, along with an innovation lab, help MLS give fans even more ways to get involved – and bet on soccer.

Schultz, Jim

Executive Vice President, Global Legal and Public Policy, Scientific Games

An almost 50-year relationship between Scientific Games and New York state is going strong after another deal was inked this winter. Scientific Games runs the $4.4 billion scratch-off portion of the state’s legal lottery. Jim Schultz came to Scientific Games in 2022 to head up public policy and advocacy for the company’s global business. An attorney, Schultz has serious bona fides in government affairs, having previously worked as counsel to President Donald Trump. He is heavily involved in the push to legalize internet lottery in New York as a part of an online gambling bill.

Schwartz, Richard

CEO, Rush Street Interactive

An executive with decades of experience in the interactive gambling space, CEO Richard Schwartz helped launch the online gambling company in 2012. Rush Street Interactive was the first to open one of only four legal live sportsbooks at Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady. It also owns and operates the casino. Late last year in New York, RSI subsidiary BetRivers saw its busiest quarter ever, taking in over $50 million in bets alone in December. BetRivers recently reupped its podcasting partnership with legendary sports announcer, Mike Francesa, famed for his “Mike and the Mad Dog” radio show.

Seeley, Bryan

Executive Vice President, Legal and Operations, Major League Baseball

There was a time when sports betting was so anathema to Major League Baseball that it ruined careers – like it did for Pete Rose. Who can blame them, with the black marks like the “Black Sox” scandal still inspiring controversy 100 years later? Times change and with the inevitable rollout across the country, MLB is seeking a so-called integrity fee from online wagering. Bryan Seeley, who sees greater engagement with the sport due to online wagering, says MLB should share in profits since its games provide the content and takes risks associated with gambling on its games.

Shah, Rajat

Racing and Gaming Industry Team Leader, Harris Beach
Shah, Rajat / Harris Beach

Attorney Rajat Shah heads the Racing and Gaming Industry Team at Harris Beach. He has worked with both Delaware North and the Seneca Gaming Corp. in expansion plans in New York. Significantly, Shah was instrumental in advising Suffolk Off-Track Betting in its purchase of the Jake’s 58 Casino and its $343 million bond offering to finance the casino’s expansion. He represented Western Regional Off-Track Betting in its acquisition of the Batavia Downs Hotel and currently represents Wynn Resorts and Related Companies in their joint effort to obtain a downstate gambling license to build a casino at Hudson Yards.

Shorenstein, Stuart

Managing Director, Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies
Shorenstein, Stuart / Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies

A veteran in government relations, Stuart Shorenstein lobbies for Cozen O’Connor’s casino and sports betting client interest in Albany. That list includes big names in the industry like MGM, Bally’s, PokerStars, DraftKings and Bet365, who depend on Shorenstein’s relationships inside state racing and wagering committees in the state Legislature as well as the governor’s office. Shorenstein is lobbying on behalf of gambling company Evolution which, among others, wants to legalize online gambling in New York. He is also lobbying for Saks Fifth Avenue, which wants to build a casino over its flagship store in Manhattan.

Silverstein, Larry

Founder and Chair, Silverstein Properties
Silverstein, Larry / Silverstein Properties

In a surprise move to no one, Larry Silverstein placed his own bet on one of the three full casino licenses being considered for downstate New York. The nonagenarian is a high roller when it comes to New York City real estate, with over 40 million square feet of commercial property under his belt, including redevelopment of the World Trade Center. Silverstein’s concept is to develop a casino and entertainment complex on Manhattan’s West Side. The proposed 1.8 million-square-foot project, called the Avenir, would be located near the Javits Center.

Sims, Brad

President and CEO, New York City Football Club
Sims, Brad / New York City Football Club

Brad Sims has predicted that a state-of-the-art stadium for his team will be completed in time for the 2027 season. The project to build the complex in Willets Point breezed through the approval process, with a groundbreaking expected later this year. NYCFC originally bumped heads with the Mets over parking lot use, but that issue was fortuitously resolved ahead of New York City Council Member Francisco Moya (who supported the soccer club in Queens and whose district covers both stadiums) voicing support of Steve Cohen’s casino bid. NYCFC was also part of a consortium that pushed for the legalization of mobile betting in New York.

Snowden, Jay

President and CEO, PENN Entertainment

Jay Snowden came to PENN Entertainment in 2017 from Caesars Entertainment. After Snowden became CEO in 2020, PENN acquired Barstool Sports and then sold it back to Dave Portnoy for a buck, and also bought digital media company theScore. Then PENN scored a partnership with ESPN BET, making the company one of the first to get a major legacy media outlet to co-brand on a mobile sportsbook. With its purchase of Wynn Interactive Holdings’ New York mobile sports wagering licenses in February for $25 million, PENN Entertainment will be able to roll out sports wagering through ESPN BET just in time for football season this year.

Stavisky, Evan

Founding Partner and President, The Parkside Group
Stavisky, Evan / The Parkside Group

When you’re lobbying for one of the most transformative pieces of legislation in New York history, it helps to have a partner who is as embedded in the halls of Albany as Evan Stavisky and his Parkside Group. When then-state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman forced the two top fantasy sports leagues to cease doing business in the state back in 2016, Stavisky led FanDuel’s fight back, which it won. In 2021, Stavisky went on to lead a strategy that convinced lawmakers to legalize mobile sports betting in the state.

Tonko, Paul

Member of Congress
Tonko, Paul / Office of Congressman Paul D. Tonko

As the gambling business expands, Rep. Paul Tonko has embarked on what has called a “solitary crusade to rein in sports betting.” Last year, Tonko relaunched Congress’ Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, which seeks to combat addiction in all its forms on a bipartisan basis. The Albany-area lawmaker has taken aim at gambling addiction in particular, calling on the federal government to designate it as a mental health and substance use disorder that’s covered under the Affordable Care Act while introducing legislation to ban predatory sports betting advertising.

Ventre, Michael

Senior Manager, State Government Relations, FanDuel
Ventre, Michael / Michael Benabib Photography

Michael Ventre manages state government relations for FanDuel, a mobile sportsbook leader in New York with a handle of over $17 billion as of March 2024 and almost $1 billion in taxes contributed to the state coffers. Ventre previously worked in Albany as legislative assistant for then-state Sen. John Bonacic, who chaired the Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee, and a staffer in Phil Boyle’s successful 2012 campaign for state Senate. (Boyle is now CEO of Suffolk County OTB.) Last year, Ventre testified against a federal bill banning all sportsbook advertising introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko.

Vita, Michael

Committee Director, State Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee

In his role as director of the state Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, Michael Vita coordinates the body’s legislative business and assists its veteran chair, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. Everything related to gambling in the state is considered by the committee, including horse racing, casinos, the state lottery and mobile sports betting. The committee’s most pressing agenda items right now are the designation of three downstate casino licenses, legislation concerning new kinds of daily fantasy sports contests and making virtual gambling a reality.

Wachtel, Keith

Chief Business Officer and Senior Executive Vice President, NHL

Primarily responsible for global corporate partnership efforts for the NHL, Keith Wachtel has scored in excess of $1 billion in revenue for the league through a number of initiatives, including broadcast and streaming media rights deals and on-ice branding opportunities for clubs. Wachtel went all-in early on sports wagering after Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, ensuring that the NHL secured partnerships with MGM, FanDuel and PENN Entertainment (now ESPN BET), among others. Wachtel was director of business development for the NFL prior to joining the NHL.

Ward, Peter

Founder, Ward Strategies
Ward, Peter / MTA

Long a powerful labor leader in New York, Peter Ward retired as president of the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council after a 41-year career in 2020. Ward remains an adviser to the union, which added “gaming” to its moniker after Resorts World New York City workers unionized. The addition of three more casinos in the New York City region will create even more jobs in the sector. Ward’s lobbying firm counts multiple bidders for one of the downstate licenses among its clients, including Genting New York, the company behind Resorts World New York City, and Bally’s, which purchased the Trump golf course in the Bronx.

Wexler, Scott

Managing Director, Catalyst Government Relations
Wexler, Scott / Linda Conley Photography

Scott Wexler is known for his bipartisan connections and strategic public policy solutions. With almost 40 years of experience in government relations, he has also tackled almost every issue related to wagering in New York state, from mobile sportsbooks to off-track betting. Wexler, who is opposed to a bill legalizing online casino gambling, says it poses a threat to union jobs at land-based casinos and the communities where they operate. He was also involved in the fight against a proposed casino in Rochester by the Seneca Nation of Indians in its compact negotiations with New York, a proposal that is now off the table.

Williams, Robert

Executive Director, State Gaming Commission

The state Gaming Commission is the lead regulatory and oversight body for all betting activity in the state – including casinos, sports betting, fantasy sports, the state lottery and video lottery terminals and horse racing – and it has an experienced leader at the helm in Robert Williams as the multibillion-dollar industry evolves and expands. The commission has six members: Chair Brian O’Dwyer along with John A. Crotty, Sylvia B. Hamer, Peter J. Moschetti Jr., Marissa Shorenstein and Jerry Skurnik. Another key staffer is Deputy Director Jim Googas, who has helped to formulate rules and regulations for the sports betting industry.

Wojtaszek, Henry

President and CEO, Western Regional Off-Track Betting
Wojtaszek, Henry / Tim Synor

A former attorney at the law firm Harris Beach, Henry Wojtaszek joined Western Regional Off-Track Betting as general counsel in 2010 before rising to CEO in 2016. In his role, Wojtaszek is responsible for operating Batavia Downs racetrack and casino along with a network of off-track betting outlets. The successful public gambling corporation has come under scrutiny in recent years while Wojtaszek has become one of the highest paid public servants in New York. Wojtaszek has said he is retiring, and rumor has it he’s making a run for mayor of North Tonawanda, where he lives.

Zausner, Daniel

Chief Operating Officer, USTA National Tennis Center
Zausner, Daniel / Billie Jean King Tennis

For over two decades, Daniel Zausner has been chief operating officer of White Plains-headquartered USTA National Tennis Center, the national governing body for the sport of tennis, with facilities across the country including the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens (Arthur Ashe Stadium is within the complex). The USTA counts Resorts World New York City as one of its sponsors. Although sportsbooks allow live tennis bets, as of yet the USTA has been slower to embrace sportsbooks or legal gambling on the sport.