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Born for Gaming

Steve Kohon, Executive Vice President, Operations and Service, Bluberi Gaming

Born for Gaming

Steve Kohon didn’t need a bachelor of science degree in business management and marketing from Southern Illinois

University to know where he wanted to spend his life’s work. Hint: It’s Las Vegas.

During Kohon’s formative years, the family would make occasional jaunts to the desert paradise from their home in Johnsburg, Illinois, a small farm town near the Wisconsin border. Taken together, these trips left an imprint on Kohon.

“I’ve had a passion for gaming since then,” he says. So he packed up his Dodge Neon, bound for Vegas. But it was more than “Las Vegas is cool; I want to work there.”

“Gaming caught my attention because I always associated it with people having fun and enjoying themselves with friends,” he says.

Kohon spent 11 years with Konami from July 2010 to July 2021, going from product analyst to senior director of sales, Western Region. “Konami provided me the opportunity to build my skill set in the product, sales and leadership areas of the gaming industry.”

By the time Covid-19 hit the industry, Bluberi Gaming hired Kohon as vice president of sales, West, and several months later named him executive vice president of operations and service.

The chance to help lead the sales team at Bluberi Gaming came up near the beginning of Covid-19 in July 2020. “I know Covid was a big time for everyone to reflect on their career/lives, so the wild times of early Covid likely pushed me towards the new opportunity a bit,” he says.

It was more than Covid-19. A trio of executives helped guide Kohon’s career—Ross O’Hanley, at the time chief revenue officer at Exacta Systems; Casey Whalen, chief commercial officer at Bluberi Gaming; and Steve Laman, the former Bally Technologies sales executive who passed away in April 2020.

Kohon exudes a confidence in his and the industry’s future. He sees himself, and more importantly, the industry sees him, as one of the more well-rounded individuals in the gaming industry with experience in multiple areas of the business—product, sales and operations. With Bluberi Gaming, Kohon should remain a “high-level executive as we continue to grow our business,” he says.

Along with the confidence, Kohon tries not to second-guess his decisions.

“I tend to always be at peace with my decisions regardless of the outcome, and look to learn from them and move forward,” says Kohon, who considers down time with his wife Kateri, son Wyatt, 7, and daughter Aviana, 5, as a source of relaxation.

Bill Sokolic is a veteran journalist who has covered gaming and tourism for more than 25 years as a staff writer and freelancer with various publications and wire services. He's also written stories for news, entertainment, features, and business. He co-authored Atlantic City Revisited, a pictorial history of the resort.

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