Speed, excitement and gambling were all aspects that drew Dan Shapiro to the horse racing industry years ago when he was a teenager. However, as exciting as the gambling aspect was, he also really enjoyed the sport.
Shapiro used to attend races in New York with his father, who would give him $20 to make $2 show bets. Before he knew it, he was hooked. In high school, he was an avid reader of the Daily Racing Form and started attending races on his own. Then in college, he landed an internship at Suffolk Downs in Boston, which signaled the start of his career in the gaming industry.
Since then, Shapiro has worked with nearly a half dozen different companies in several different capacities, all related to horse racing. In late 2007, he left a job at Youbet.com and joined his mentor at Brandywine Bookmaking LLC in Las Vegas, where he spent nearly five years as the director of marketing until the company, a pure startup, was acquired by British bookmaking giant William Hill in 2012.
In his current position as director of business development, Shapiro has been a key part of the growth of William Hill US, which has become the leading sports betting company in the U.S.
Shapiro says one of the largest and most difficult decisions in his professional career was to move to Las Vegas and help with Brandywine Bookmaking, which operated Lucky’s Race & Sports Books. At that point, he considered himself a “horse-racing guy,” and did not have much experience in other industries. It was a steep learning curve, and he credits his mentor, William Hill US CEO Joe Asher, as the leading voice in “guiding me out of horse racing and into the broader gaming industry.”
Asher was the one who convinced Shapiro to move to Las Vegas, but they had known each other before they started working together. Several years prior they both were at a conference in Kentucky, and bad weather in New York delayed each of their travel plans, leading them to get to know each other. Instead of waiting at the airport, they went over to Keeneland Racecourse. Later down the road, Asher made the call for Shapiro to join him at Brandywine.
Success has not been easy, and Shapiro worked extremely hard to get where he is today. Being detail-oriented, learning to communicate well and always working toward the proverbial big picture were the key traits he believes have led to his success.
Shapiro also is working on his MBA at UCLA, and will graduate in June. Through his years in the gaming industry, Shapiro has gathered knowledge from colleagues and upper management, and one piece of advice he can offer to young professionals in the gaming industry is to “always learn and strive to develop your skills. Never miss an opportunity to spend time with senior management so you can try to understand the big picture.”
It’s advice he thrives on, and continues to follow on a daily basis.