Johnny Avello leaves Wynn to join the upstart DraftKings operation

DraftKings Sportsbook Adds Another Nevada Sports Betting All-Star To Its Roster

Nevada sports betting

DraftKings Sportsbook has acquired another sports betting veteran to help oversee its retail operations.

The company announced today the hiring of Johnny Avello to a director-level position based in Las Vegas. Widely respected among clients and colleagues alike, Avello is the former executive director for the Wynn sportsbook.

The move comes about six weeks after Frank Kunovic (Caesars) and Jamie Shea (IGT) left their positions to join DraftKings, too.

Building out an all-star team

DraftKings Sportsbook began piecing together its team even before the US Supreme Court ruling on PASPA in May, and the hiring has intensified since. Last month, the company disclosed plans to open new offices in San Francisco and Las Vegas. Those offices, of course, require staff.

Co-founder Matt Kalish said the bar for hiring talent is “extremely high,” and candidates from Nevada have proven to be high on his list. Here’s more on the Avello acquisition:

“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.”

Avello and Kunovic will oversee retail operations for DraftKings Sportsbook, while Shea will head up the online/mobile platform. Together, they have about a century of experience in the industry.

DraftKings Sportsbook still has a number of open positions to fill, too, including manager-level positions in Las Vegas.

DraftKings Sportsbook in Nevada?

If persistent rumors of DraftKings Sportsbook getting into the Nevada sports betting market prove true, the company appears stocked with talent to do it.

DraftKings Sportsbook now has hired three stalwarts of the local industry, two of them focused solely on the retail side of the business. Those would be unusual hires for a company that didn’t intend to attack the market. For that matter, opening a new office would be curious without plans in the neighborhood.

The team has built out a stellar sports gambling platform, but it has limited reach right now. Although DraftKings Sportsbook was the first online/mobile sports betting platform to launch in New Jersey, it’s been two months without another step forward. The company is still lacking a path into any other state with legal sports betting.

FanDuel Sportsbook, meanwhile, has also launched NJ sports betting, and its current partners will facilitate access into more than a dozen other markets. It already has a retail presence in two states, while DraftKings is still without a brick-and-mortar facility anywhere.

The latter has some catching up to do, and Nevada might be just the place to do it. Should it wish to open up shop out west, DraftKings Sportsbook would need to apply for a full gaming license.

Eric Ramsey
- Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.