Gov. Tom Wolf announced the appointment of Nedia Ralston to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Ralston most recently served as director of the Southeast Regional Office for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The governor also announced that commissioner Denise J. Smyler will become chairwoman following the retirement of David Barasch.
“Nedia has been a great asset to the commonwealth over the years and I am confident she will continue to be so in her new position,” said Wolf.
Before taking her role in the Southeast Region, Ralston worked as a deputy finance director on the Tom Wolf for Governor Campaign and Citizens to Elect Dwight Evans Campaign. Ralston is a board member for the Southeastern Regional Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Community College of Philadelphia.
She is a graduate of John W. Hallahan High School. She earned a bachelor of arts in political science from Hampton University in 2006.
Additionally, Wolf announced that Smyler will replace Barasch as PGCB chairman. Barasch retired recently after nearly six years leading the board, which limits members to two three-year terms.
Wolf originally appointed Smyler to the PGCB in 2019. Prior to her appointment to the board, Smyler served as general counsel of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As general counsel, Smyler oversaw the provision of legal services to the governor, his senior staff, and more than 30 executive branch and independent agencies.
Barasch’s decades-long career serving both state and federal government included consumer advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, special assistant to Gov. Bob Casey, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
During his term as chairman of the PGCB, Barasch helped guide a period of growth in the commonwealth’s gaming industry second only to the initial period of licensing and opening of casinos in the mid- to late-2000s. During his tenure as chair, the legislature approved and placed under the PGCB’s regulatory watch internet gaming, sports wagering and truck stop video gaming terminals. From the 2018 launch of these new forms of legalized gaming, the revenue generated from these, coupled with the established casino gaming market, rose from $3.2 billion annually to an expected $4 billion in 2021.
“The Gaming Control Board and the public benefitted from David Barasch’s deep experience and steady hand during the past six years,” said PGCB executive director Kevin O’Toole. “At no time in the history of this agency were those qualities more important in a board chair than during the past year of unexpected and unprecedented disruptions to the gaming industry due to COVID-19. During that period under chairman Barasch’s watch, the agency not only carried out its casino oversight responsibilities, but continued its important work of assuring the new forms of gambling were successfully rolled out.”