DraftKings increase sportsbook focus with Las Vegas “legend” Johnny Avello

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DraftKings has taken the latest step in signifying its serious sports betting intent by naming Johnny Avello as director of sportsbook operations.

The former Wynn Resorts sportsbook director will be based in the DFS operator’s Nevada office, and was appointed just two months after DraftKings accepted its first US sports bets.

“Johnny is considered a legend in Las Vegas,” said DraftKings co-founder Matt Kalish. “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.”

Though previously purely focused on Daily Fantasy Sports, DraftKings have recently laid a heavy emphasis on a sportsbook operation, hiring Jamie Shea from IGT as head of digital sportsbook and Frank Kunovic from Caesars as director of retail sportsbook operations.

That promise of DraftKing’s “world-class sports betting operation” seems to have appealed to Avello, Shea and Kunovic, with Avello thanking Wynn for his tenure, but adding “the whole national gaming scene is going to be bigger than everyone anticipated, and I just want to be a part of it.”

Though unconfirmed, Ed Malinowski is also expected to join DraftKings after announcing his resignation as sportsbook director of Golden Entertainment subsidiary Stratosphere.

The announcements follow a report by Shea in September that DraftKings had “exceeded expectations” during its first month of online betting in August, taking almost $3m in its New Jersey operation.

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