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Pennsylvania GCB names Denise Smyler as new chair


Denise Smyler has been named chair of Pennsylvania’s gaming regulator following the retirement of David Barasch.

Smyler became a member of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) in 2019, following a spell as General Counsel of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As General Counsel, Smyler oversaw the provision of legal services to the governor, his senior staff, and more than 30 executive branch and independent agencies.

Smyler was appointed by Pennsylvania’s Governor, Tom Wolf, following the departure of Barasch after nearly six years leading the board, which limits Members to two three-year terms.

Governor Wolf has also appointed Nedia Ralston, formerly director of the southeast regional office for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to the PGCB.

Before taking on her role in the Southeast Region, Ralston worked as a deputy finance director on the Tom Wolf for Governor Campaign.

“Nedia has been a great asset to the commonwealth over the years and I am confident she will continue to be so in her new position,” Wolf said.

Barasch’s departure was announced earlier this week, with PGCB executive director Kevin O’Toole paying tribute to the chair who led the state through the introduction of igaming during his tenure.

“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.

“During that period under Chairman Barasch’s watch, the agency not only carried out its casino oversight responsibilities but continued its important work of assuring the new forms of gambling were successfully rolled out.”