What 2021 Sports Betting Hall Of Fame Inductees Say About Gambling’s New Era 

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From left: Joe Brennan, Johnny Avello, Joe Asher, Yolanda Acuna, Jeff Ifrah

Secaucus, N.J. — The 2021 inductees into the Sports Betting Hall of Fame were introduced at the SBC North America Summit this week. The four new members sat on a panel Thursday, entitled “Building a Customer-Centric Culture”, where they discussed the evolving sports betting industry.

These are this year’s Sports Betting Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Yolanda Acuna – Former Director of Administration at MGM Resorts 
  • Johnny Avello  – Director of Race & Sportsbook Operations at DraftKings 
  • Joe Asher – President of Sports Betting at IGT
  • Joe Brennan – Former Chair of IMEGA

There’s something notable about this list. As moderator Jeff Ifrah noted, the Sports Betting Hall of Fame inductees not only include Las Vegas experts, they also include people like Brennan, whose gambling experience largely came from his upbringing in the northeast. 

With the rise of online sports betting and igaming, gambling isn’t limited to Las Vegas anymore. New Jersey has a robust sports betting and igaming industry that rivals the size of Nevada’s. Pennsylvania is a competitive gaming market. New York is poised to become perhaps the largest mobile sports betting market in the country. These three states will form a northeastern powerhouse that will be a gaming focal point outside of Nevada. 

Although Las Vegas is irreplaceable, it’s no longer the only market where people can build lucrative careers in gambling, whether they choose to be bettors or business professionals. 

Steady Democratization 

There’s a larger trend of previously inaccessible industries simplifying their products and making them more accessible to customers. This trend is apparent in betting exchanges like Sporttrade and financial apps like Kalshi. They strip complexity away from gambling and investing so that more people can participate in those industries. 

However, increased accessibility also means that people can build careers and expertise more easily. Aspiring sharp bettors no longer have to move to Las Vegas. They can move to Colorado to compare many sportsbooks against each other. They can begin careers in commodity trading in New York and transition to sports betting. Aspiring gambling industry giants can move to New Jersey. 

The gambling industry is becoming more accessible to young people who want to build careers and bettors who want to become sharps. The Sports Betting Hall of Fame’s diversity of Las Vegas insiders and East Coast industry pros marks this turning point. Industry greats can be bred from outside of Las Vegas, making the gambling industry more accessible than ever before.    

About the Author

Christopher Gerlacher

Writer and Contributor
Christopher Gerlacher is a senior author and contributor for Gaming Today. He's a devout Broncos fan, for better or for worse, living in the foothills of Arvada, Colorado.

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