Former Louisiana Gaming Chair Takes on Advisory Role for Entain

Posted on: February 9, 2021, 11:55h. 

Last updated on: February 10, 2021, 11:25h.

Former Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Jones has a new job. The Advocate reported Monday that he will serve as an advisor to British gaming company Entain.

Ronnie Jones, Louisiana Gaming
Ronnie Jones (right), a former chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, will serve as a US advisor for British-based Entain. (Image: WVLA)

The report comes just a couple of days after an ethics panel cleared Jones to take the job, provided he does not represent the company in the state. Louisiana’s ethics laws mandate that people who led agencies cannot represent a company seeking to do business with the same agency in the state for two years.

The issue came up for discussion at Friday’s state Board of Ethics meeting.

Jones sought an opinion and guidance from the state and described in detail what role he’d perform. In the letter, he did not divulge the name of the company. However, he noted it was a foreign firm.

Any role on the Advisory Board would not involve the entity using me to appear before the LGCB or otherwise to lobby before the Louisiana legislature or other branch of Louisiana government,” Jones wrote. “Rather, as proposed, the role would relate to me using my regulatory background to assist the company in establishing best practices generally through the Advisory Board and input of myself and other former regulators from other states.”

In a draft copy of the ruling on the Ethics Board website, it was revealed that Entain approached Jones. Entain does not have any business interest in Louisiana. Neither does MGM Resorts International, its joint venture partner for BetMGM online sportsbook and iGaming applications.

Forced Off Louisiana Board in June

Jones was the well-respected chair of the LGCB for seven years. He was first appointed by Republican Bobby Jindal in 2013 to a six-year term. In 2019, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards reappointed him to another six-year term. In 2017, he was named the North American Regulator of the Year by International Masters of Gaming Law.

Prior to his time as chairman, the former state police official served as the board’s spokesperson beginning in 1991.

However, a controversial move by a state senator last June forced Jones off the board. State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, employed a rarely used tactic in Louisiana law that allows a sitting state senator to reject a governor’s appointment if that individual lives in the senator’s district.

Peterson, according to media reports, was upset she had been identified after being cited for entering a Baton Rouge casino. That’s despite having voluntarily registered for the state’s self-exclusion program. She felt Jones was responsible for the leak. Edwards, powerless to block the move, expressed his displeasure at Peterson’s action.

Jones told The Advocate on Monday that he had hoped to continue in that role for a couple more years.

“Unfortunately and surprisingly, I found no support for that from others,” he said. “But much later, doors began to open and I will be better for the lessons I have learned.”

Rough Past Month for Entain

Entain, formerly known as GVC Holdings, is a company currently going through some turmoil.

The company was an acquisition target for MGM last month, but officials turned down an $11 billion offer. After that rejection. CEO Shay Segev, who just took over as CEO six months earlier, announced his departure and become the co-CEO of sports-streaming platform DAZN.

Since then, MGM has decided to not make another offer. That’s led to Entain’s stock, which had risen gradually from a low of $3.53 at the start of the COVID pandemic last year to a high of $20.25 on Jan. 7, to lose about 10 percent of that 52-week high.

It closed Tuesday at $18.23.