When Nav Sandhawalia has some free time, he enjoys Formula One racing. He identifies with the velocity.
“The sport is as fast-paced as my role at Niagara Casinos,” he says.
At Niagara Casinos—one of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment’s initial international acquisitions—Sandhawalia serves as chief compliance and risk officer. In that capacity, he oversees security, surveillance, legal, and internal audits for Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara.
“In addition, I serve as the corporate secretary.”
An accountant by trade, Sandhawalia leads a team focused on ensuring the casinos manage risk, while meeting various contractual and internal policy requirements.
Born and raised in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, Sandhawalia received a bachelor of business administration degree from Wilfred Laurier University in 2005, with a focus in accounting and a minor in political science. In 2006, he landed a position with PwC—PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the big four accounting firms.
He acted as lead consultant with Mohegan in 2016 in its bid to manage Niagara Casinos. Sandhawalia worked closely with the Niagara team through the operational transition in early 2019. On July 1 of that year, he joined the executive team for the two casino properties. Since then, he’s brought his experience to bear across multiple sectors, including land-based casinos, online gaming, social gaming and lottery.
“I am also a contributor in setting the broader strategic direction of the company, helping manage a diverse variety of stakeholders, including multiple government agencies, local business, and supporting service providers.”
The coronavirus pandemic closed the casinos in mid-March, resulting in furloughs to a majority of the staff.
“We continue to work with government and public health authorities on our reopening plans,” Sandhawalia says.
During this time, the company launched an online social gaming site, PlayFallsview, that kept players connected to the properties as well as building brand loyalty. This fall, the Ontario government offered the opportunity to expand the site into the private sector with for-money online gaming, he says.
Sandhawalia’s parents moved from India to Canada in the mid-1970s, where they worked difficult blue-collar jobs to put food on the table. “This helped me learn a very hard work ethic from a young age,” says the father of Lyla, 7 and Kierit, 5.
But growing up in such a household failed to expose him to professional environments. “Early in my career it was challenging to understand and excel. Being a visible minority also brought some challenges, but fortunately Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world and I have been able to overcome any obstacle.”
Along the way, Sandhawalia learned from a variety of mentors, too many to mention without missing someone, he says. “I have appreciated everyone that has impacted my career, and made it a focus to connect and learn from seasoned successful executives, in both the government and private sectors.”
If he can impart wisdom on others entering the industry, it’s this: “Network, do great work, and stay focused on delivering value. Success will come with time.”