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Bowled Over

Brian Bulko, Compliance Manager, Speaking Rock Entertainment Center

Bowled Over

For Brian Bulko, El Paso means more than a catchy old song by Marty Robbins. He was born and raised in the border town, and also earned a bachelor of business administration degree at the University of Texas campus in El Paso. In 2016, after working in various local service and retail chains, he got a job at Speaking Rock Entertainment Center—also in El Paso.

What drew Bulko to the casino industry—besides staying in El Paso—was the potential for growth. Speaking Rock currently employs more than 700 people in the local community. “It is a primary source of economic growth and sustainability. The opportunity to contribute to that inspired me to make a career change,” he says.

As compliance manager, Bulko develops and implements all aspects of the anti-money laundering program and oversees day-to-day compliance with Title 31, which deals with financial crimes. In addition, he manages the development and implementation of all written departmental policies and procedures and conducts internal operational reviews of cash operations, security, surveillance, guest services, and food and beverage.

The greatest obstacle Bulko has faced is his age.

“I have notoriously been considered young whenever I advanced to a new position. I’ve always overcome this by being confident with what I bring to the table. When you realize you’re there not because of coincidence or luck but your skill, education, experience and talent, you open yourself up to your potential,” says Bulko, an avid bowler who serves as president of the Bi-National Friendship Bowling Association and is vice president of the El Paso United States Bowling Congress. The Bi-National is an association of male bowlers from the Southwest and Mexico, which hosts tournament in El Paso and Juarez.

Bulko acknowledges help from numerous mentors, starting with his parents. He also cites Monsignor Francis Smith; when Bulko was an altar server during Mass, he brought a discrepancy to Smith’s attention. After mass, the monsignor pointed out that while he noticed something wasn’t done right, those in the church do not.

“I’ve incorporated this into many of the policies and procedures I develop,” Bulko says. “If there’s something in question, it can be discussed offline. Your patrons don’t know whether or not you made a mistake.” It’s a credo he still quotes today.

Bulko has some advice for those interested in gaming. It’s all about finding your passion, he says.

“See how your passion can contribute to the industry,” he says. “I believe that often people are not aware of all the opportunities. They only see the obvious ones located on the floor in the view of the public. The industry has so much to offer, from accounting and marketing to information technology and compliance.”

As for the future, Bulko and his family—wife, Rudi and son, Bradley—have roots in El Paso. “Speaking Rock Entertainment Center is where I see my future. Yet the industry is global, with opportunities everywhere. I never know where those might take me.”

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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