For the four decades in which Dona Cassese has been part of the casino industry, she has championed the marketing function as one of the most important cogs in any business.
“Marketing is very integral in the whole operation of a business,” she says. “Marketing doesn’t just spend the money or make things look good, but also plays a strategic role in the promotion of our products and brand, and how they are presented to our casino customers and the end users.”
Cassese has followed this mantra throughout a career that has contributed to the success of some of the household names of gaming, both on the operational and supply sides.
She is a marketer to the core. A Las Vegas native, she earned her B.A. at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in business, management, marketing and related support services. In the 1980s, she developed one of the first player’s clubs in the industry at the Gold Coast, before moving on to The Mirage and Luxor, where she was director of casino marketing.
In 1998, Cassese moved to the supply side and never looked back, with executive marketing positions at WMS Gaming, Aristocrat, and finally, to her current position as vice president of marketing at Everi Holdings since 2018.
Having worked on both the operator and supply sides of the business has helped her master the task of guiding a small but talented staff in supporting a brand split into to two disciplines, slot supply and fintech.
“I think the benefit of working on both sides is I understand what our casino partners are looking for and how a manufacturer can assist them with promoting their products throughout their casino,” Cassese says. “I have also had the ability to work in most of the positions within a marketing department, so I have a good understanding of what is required for each job function.”
Those skills will be invaluable this year, as Everi continues to release products to fill a robust library on both the game and fintech sides of the business. On the games side, the company is rolling out five new cabinets, with launch games tied to each. “We are going to be part of a cross-functional team that’s going to launch these products into the field with casino partners,” Cassese says, “and it’s going to be a big responsibility of marketing to differentiate each of these five cabinets. It’s the first time in my career that I’ve seen a company launch that many cabinets in one year. So I think it’s going to be an exciting challenge for us.”
Product launches are also robust on the fintech side this year. “This is a new and exciting new chapter for many manufacturers as well as casino operators,” says Cassese. “Everything is migrating to be more digital-based, from advertising to increased usage of digital wallets and mobile apps, as well as online gaming. Through our technology we call BeOn, Everi can provide casinos and customers with everything they need on their phone—from transferring money to a gaming machine to being able to play their favorite games anywhere.
“It is quite a departure from traditional marketing. This is an exciting new venture for my group, as we learn the ins and outs of the products from our development teams in order for us to be able to promote the products properly to our casino partners as well as players.”
As Everi navigates new technologies and launches new products, Cassese continues to guide the marketing team. “Now that we have seen good traction with the overall company branding, I would like one of my main priorities to be to continue to foster the great talent that I have with a very small team in Las Vegas, to ensure that they have the ability to grow and further their career paths here at Everi,” she says.
“I am a big believer in cross training, and feel that micro-managing is counterproductive. The team I work with has been together for a few years now, and they are all exceptionally talented in their areas of expertise. It’s a good feeling when your team understands the company and department goals, knows what you are looking for creatively, and can finish your sentences. Marketing at Everi is truly a team effort.”