Wynn Resorts’ executive John Avello is joining DraftKings, the leading national Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) operation as it continues its foray into Nevada-style, single-team bookmaking, telling Sports Handle that the popular Las Vegas Strip bookmaker has joined their expanding operation.
Avello, who will remain in Las Vegas, the company said, is expected to be joined at DraftKings by Ed Malinowski, sports and racebook executive at Golden Entertainment. Malinoswki has resigned from that post.
Although it’s believed that Malinowski, with more than a decade in an executive role in the Southern Nevada sportsbook industry, will join Avello at DraftKings in a leadership role, he was unavailable to confirm his new post. A DraftKings spokesperson was unable to immediately confirm or deny the hiring of Malinowski.
DraftKings Hires Respected Las Vegas Veteran Bookmaker Johnny Avello to Oversee Retail Sportsbook Trading and Risk-Management, With An Eye Toward In-Play Wagering.
Frank Kunovic, former lead bookmaker at Caesars Entertainment’s Las Vegas properties, joined DraftKing several months ago after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the law banning single-team sports betting in all other states except Nevada.
Avello has been a popular bookmaking personality in Las Vegas for decades. He’s spent the past 13 years as the executive director of the Wynn Las Vegas Sportsbook. Avello is known nationally for posting odds on the Academy Awards voting. He has gained a national reputation for his on-point odds and his entertaining commentary, usually foreshadowing the eventual Oscar winners.
DraftKings says Avello’s initial role will include oversight of retail sportsbook trading and risk management. Said Matt Kalish, DraftKings’ Chief Revenue Officer and co-founder:
“Johnny is considered a legend in Las Vegas. 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.”
According to an industry stakeholder who spoke to Sports Handle on the condition of anonymity, new entrants into the national sports wagering marketplace such as DraftKings and FanDuel, the number-two DFS concern, as they transition to newly legalized forms of sports wagering, realize they’ll need experienced help to participate in “in-play” wagering, the fastest growing segment of the new national sports wagering business. DraftKings may very well set up an extensive trading operation in Las Vegas for “in-play” betting where a talent pool for so-called “traders” can be developed.
“They realize this can’t be done in Europe and it’s hard to do outside of Nevada with its decades-long sports wagering marketplace tradition,” the source said.
DraftKings leadership has said they believe the sport betting marketplace nationally is enormous and they would be a major participant as the various states roll it out. It currently operates a mobile app in New Jersey and has announced a deal with del Lago, a casino/resort, in upstate New York, to operate its book when New York legalizes sports betting, perhaps as soon as next year.