Scientific Games bolsters legal department with senior appointment

James Sottile will serve as executive vice-president and chief legal officer


Scientific Games has bolstered its legal department at a time of landmark changes in US gambling by appointing veteran lawyer James Sottile as its new executive vice-president and chief legal officer. Sottile, who took up the position yesterday (Tuesday), will oversee Scientific Games’ global legal organisation and report to president and CEO, Barry Cottle.

Sottile, who has more than 30 years of experience working across multiple industries, joins Scientific Games from global legal practice Jones Day, where he was a partner in its New York office. He has been named a notable practitioner by Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers since 2005 and has been recognised in The Best Lawyers in America since 2011. CEO Cottle said: “Jim is an accomplished legal strategist and litigator, as well as an experienced leader. I look forward to working with him, as he guides our world-class legal organisation to support our strategic objectives and positively impact our business results.” Sotille’s appointment comes with Scientific currently engaged in a significant legal battle in the US. The company last month vowed to appeal after it was ordered to pay $315m (€246.8m/€275.3m) by a court in Chicago. The jury awarded $105m to a group of companies – comprising Shuffle Tech International, Aces Up Gaming and Poydras-Talrick Holdings – but the damages were automatically tripled under US antitrust law. The court decided that Scientific Games had initiated a frivolous patent lawsuit with the aim of securing control of the market for automatic card-shufflers at casinos.

Speaking about his appointment, Sottile said: “I am excited by the opportunity to lead Scientific Games' global legal organisation and work with Barry and his leadership team to ensure the company continues its global leadership in gaming and lottery and is successful in its efforts to drive innovation and benefit all key stakeholders.

“My passion is leading winning teams, and I am thrilled to lead and advance the success of Scientific Games' great legal team.”

Sottile’s arrival comes amid a busy month for Scientific. It agreed a technical partnership with Kindred Group that will grant the betting firm “swift access” to the US market, commencing with New Jersey by the end of the year before potentially moving on to other states. The three-year deal, which includes the option for a two-year extension, names Scientific Games’ SG Digital division as Kindred’s US technology partner. Caesars Entertainment also launched regulated sports betting at two of its Mississippi properties in partnership with Scientific Games. Caesars’ Horseshoe Tunica Hotel & Casino took its first sports wager in August, while Harrah’s Gulf Coast Hotel & Casino has also started accepting bets. Finally, Scientific Games moved to take advantage of the expanding Pennsylvania regulated gambling market by launching its virtual sports services in the US state. Working in partnership with Pennsylvania Lottery, the service is available in various retail venues, bars and taverns across the state.