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Woolf, Salerno, Valbuena head Gaming Hall of Fame inductees

A long-time casino operator, a sports gambling pioneer, and a principal behind the growth of Indian casinos will be inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame later the month as part of the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

The American Gaming Association announced Monday that Navegante Group founder Larry Woolf, William Hill US Chairman Victor Salerno, and Lynn Valbuena of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in California will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sept. 30 at the MGM Grand Las Vegas.

“Victor, Lynn and Larry are pioneers in the gaming industry and worthy of induction into a very special fraternity,” AGA 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, originally a Southern California dentist, took over downtown Las Vegas’ Leroy’s Horse & Sports Place from his father-in-law in 1978. He became a pioneer in satellite Nevada race and sports books. In 1984, Salerno replaced handwritten betting tickets with a computerized betting system and Leroy’s was one of the first sports books to offer telephone account wagering. Salerno developed the first self-service sports wagering kiosk in 2002 and Nevada’s first mobile sports betting application.

Valbuena is chairwoman of the San Manuel tribe and is in her 20th year as the chairwoman of the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations, which advances tribal sovereign governmental rights, cultural identity and the interests Central California tribes. Valbuena was executive secretary of the Washington D.C.-based National Indian Gaming Association from 1997-2011.

Woolf has spent more than 40 years in the gaming industry. He was president of Caesars Tahoe and was the first chairman, CEO and president of the MGM Grand Las Vegas, overseeing the design, planning and construction of the Strip resort, which opened in 1993. 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.

The Gaming Hall of Fame was founded in 1989.

G2E, the gaming industry’s largest trade show and conference, takes place Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Find @howardstutz on Twitter.

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