PGCB Welcomes New Chairwoman Denise J. Smyler

Denise J. Smyler is stepping in as the Pennsylvania gaming regulator’s new chairwoman following the retirement of the incumbent, David M. Barasch.

Gov. Tom Wolf Introduces New PGCB Appointments 

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), the regulator that spearheaded the launch of all gambling segments in the Keystone State, now has a new chairwoman. Denise J. Smyler was introduced by Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday following the resignation of the incumbent, David M. Barasch, who is stepping down after six years with the agency. Smyler is not an outsider, either, having served at the agency since 2019 when she stepped in as general counsel of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Her predecessor is best known for having helped shape the industry in the Keystone State, driving some significant revenue from sports gambling, online casinos, and even poker.

When Pennsylvania set the stage for gambling following the defeat of PASPA, the Keystone State knew what it was after and set the licensing fees as high as $4 million per individual permit or $10 million for all three licenses, read poker, sports, and casinos, for a limited time only.

Since then, the state has been raking in a steady financial windfall, with revenue from gaming set to hit $4 billion in 2021. PGCB executive director Kevin O’Toole has commended for his dedication to advancing the regulator’s cause: “The Gaming Control board and the public benefitted from David Barasch’s deep experience and steady hand during the past six years. At no time in the history of this agency were those qualities more important in a Board Chair than during the past year of unexpected and unprecedented disruptions to the gaming industry due to COVID-19.”

The shift in the PGCB coincided with another appointment, that of Nedia Ralston, who is stepping in to help the board oversee gambling in the state. Both appointees have extensive legal experience working for the Commonwealth. 

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