J.P. Morgan poaches gaming-focused ‘40 under 40’ dealmaker from Macquarie

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With the nationwide push to legalize gambling well underway, it makes sense for banks to beef up their coverage of the gaming, lodging and leisure industry. J.P. Morgan did just that by adding longtime industry veteran Kyle Bender as its head of gaming. Bender began in Los Angeles earlier this month as a managing director.

Bender has spent the totality of his career as a gaming and leisure-focused investment banker, including the last seven years as an MD at Australian bank Macquarie. He’d previously worked at Jefferies and UBS in similar roles after cutting his teeth at Bank of America. In October, Bender was named to the “Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40” list when he was still with Macquarie Capital.

As an industry sector, gaming, hospitality and leisure is expected to eventually see a spike in activity as recent and anticipated changes to domestic gambling laws should allow new entrants and the opportunity for capital fundraising and mergers and acquisitions in the coming years, particularly in the middle market. 

Macquarie made its first real splash in the sector back in 2011 when it acquired boutique investment bank REGAL Capital Advisors, which specialized in gaming, lodging and leisure. The acquisition was more of a people-grab; REGAL founder and now senior managing director David Berman and his then 23-person team joined Macquarie as part of the deal. The Australian bank is now one person down with J.P. Morgan’s poaching of Bender. JPM made a similar move over in London two years ago when it hired Massimo Saletti from Deutsche Bank to become its head of real estate, gaming and lodging for EMEA.

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