The American Gaming Association will induct three honorees into the Gaming Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 at the Global Gaming Expo at MGM Grand on Sept. 30.
The inductees are Victor Salerno of William Hill US, Lynn Valbuena of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and Navegante Group founder Larry J. Woolf.
“Victor, Lynn and Larry are pioneers in the gaming industry and worthy of induction into a very special fraternity,” American Gaming Association CEO Geoff Freeman said in a statement. “Victor has been on the cutting edge of the sports gaming industry for decades; Lynn has been a staunch advocate for tribal rights, and Larry’s business acumen has been the driving force for the success of several renowned properties.”
Salerno, a dentist, moved to Las Vegas in 1978 to take the reins of Leroy’s Horse & Sports Place from his father-in-law, Leroy Merillat.
Over the past 30 years, he became one of sports gaming’s innovators and the pioneer in satellite race and sports books statewide. In 1984, he replaced handwritten betting tickets with a betting system called Computerized Bookmaking Systems, allowing sports books to eliminate fraud while expediting the betting process.
Salerno was one of the first sports book operators to offer telephone account wagering and developed the first self-service sports wagering kiosk in 2002. In 2010, he was the mastermind behind LEROY’s App, Nevada’s first mobile sports betting app. Salerno serves as chairman of the board of William Hill US.
Woolf’s 40 plus-year’s gaming industry career includes many firsts that changed and improved the industry nationwide.
As president of Caesars Tahoe, he initiated the first companywide drug hair-testing program, which has become a standard. As chairman, CEO and president of MGM Grand, his input was integral in the design, planning and construction of the first billion-dollar integrated resort, which opened in 1993 with more than 5,000 guest rooms and 9,000 employees.
Woolf broke new ground at MGM Grand by being the first to open a Las Vegas casino with a roster of celebrity chefs, a trend that has since exploded. He also introduced TITO, another first and now an industry standard.
Woolf founded the Navegante Group in 1995, which provides development, management and consulting services for casinos worldwide. He is also an investor and owner in several casinos.
Valbuena is chairwoman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and is in her 20th year as the chairwoman of the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations. She works to advance tribal sovereign governmental rights, cultural identity and the interests of those tribes in the Central District of California. As executive secretary of the National Indian Gaming Association from 1997-2011, Valbuena was the liaison for the largest organization of gaming tribes in the country.
The Global Gaming Expo is scheduled for Sept. 28–Oct. 1 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. For more information about the Global Gaming Expo 2015, visit www.globalgamingexpo.com.