New casinos on the Director's radar
By Kate Northrop
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that he appointed Kelly T. Gee, the Virginia Lottery's Acting Director, as the permanent Executive Director.
Having served as the Virginia Lottery's Acting Director since January, Kelly T. Gee officially filled the role permanently on June 6.
On Friday, Youngkin announced several new administration appointments, including a Secretary of Administration, Secretary of Commerce and Trade, and Secretary of Finance, just to name a few.
"It is my honor to welcome our newest public servants and board members to the administration as we continue our efforts to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family," Youngkin said in a press release. "I am excited for our team to grow in expertise and aptitude as we conquer the most pressing challenges in Virginia that these coalitions of qualified individuals will serve to address."
According to the Lottery, Gee spent the last decade in public service, including eight years in the General Assembly, where she wrapped up as Deputy Chief of Staff to the 55th Speaker of the House.
She joined the Lottery in 2018 on the leadership team as the Manager of Government Relations. Gee's responsibilities included "managing the strategy and execution of legislative outreach efforts" and working with the team in policy creation and implementation, the Lottery states.
Gee assumes the role as Executive Director following Kevin Hall, who previously held the position until former Governor Ralph Northam's term ended in January.
The newest Executive Director of the Virginia Lottery will play a role in the opening of the state's first land-based casino.
"The Virginia Lottery has worked diligently for two years to build the appropriate regulatory structure for casino gambling," Gee said in April.
By a vote of 7-0, the Lottery's board of directors unanimously agreed to issue an operating license to Hard Rock Bristol for Virginia's first casino. The Lottery's Gaming and Compliance Department says that it is aiming to open a temporary facility located at the former Bristol Mall in early July 2022.
"We will be on-site at the casino over the next couple of months observing the receipt of gaming equipment, reviewing internal controls, and ensuring full compliance with the regulations," Lottery Deputy Executive Director of Gaming Compliance Gina M. Smith said at the time of the vote.
The approval marks the beginning of the Lottery's journey in reviewing additional applications for three more proposed casinos in Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth, which were all approved by voters in 2020.
"I am proud of the tireless work by our Gaming Compliance Department and our legal counsel for conducting the necessary investigative work to assist the board in its decision," Gee said. "There are still many steps to the finish line, but there is no doubt that this is an exciting time."