DES MOINES — The man who oversees the regulation of the gambling industry in the state is leaving the job in January.
Racing and Gaming Administrator Brian Ohorilko took over the job 12 years ago after being with the Racing and Gaming Commission for eight years before that. “You know, I’ve done a lot in this space and those 20 years, and for me, it was just, like an opportunity to pursue some other goals. And the timing felt right, both personally and professionally to do so at the end of this year,” he says. He will take a job outside of state government. “I’m not quite ready to discuss some of those details, but I am excited and motivated for some new challenges,” Ohorilko says. “And I just cannot wait to get an opportunity to make a positive and professional impact.”
Ohorilko says awarding new gambling licenses was one of the biggest issues he faced in his tenure. “Dealing with some of the licensing decisions, those certainly have been the most challenging times when you have opportunities and for different communities and to look at whether or not a new casino would make sense,” he says. “So those were definitely some of the biggest challenges.” He says more recently dealing with sports betting issues has been a challenge.
Ohorilko says the Racing and Gaming Commission in Iowa’s is a highly respected regulatory body, and a lot of that is due to the dedication and hard work put in by the Commission and staff over the years. “The ability to understand all of the issues, clearly from all sides, being transparent about what that looks like when decisions are made, making sure that the public has an opportunity to provide input and share their feelings,” Ohorilko says.
Ohorilko says the sports gambling issues are similar to when casino gambling was first introduced. “These are things that as time moves on, will be items that we’ll see, you know, regulations evolve and really each state will have what they feel comfortable with in terms of what’s legalized,” Ohorilko says. Ohorilko took over for Jack Ketterer, who retired after serving as administrator for much of the time since the start of gambling in the state.
The Racing and Gaming Commission appointed Deputy Director Tina Eick to serve as interim administrator. The Commission chair indicated they would expect to appoint a new administrator at their meeting in January.