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Excellence Amid Adversity

An introduction to the 19th Annual 25 People to Watch in the casino industry

Excellence Amid Adversity

Welcome to our 19th showcase of the 25 people our Editorial Advisory Board has identified as the executives most likely to make a difference in the coming year.

The previous 18 groups of movers and shakers highlighted in this annual feature constitute a parade of professionals who have made a mark on this industry, from Penn National CEO Peter Carlino and former Scientific Games CEO Gavin Isaacs in early years through last year, when Poarch Creek Tribal Chairwoman Stephanie Bryan related the strength of that Alabama tribe’s acquisition of Wind Creek Bethlehem from Las Vegas Sands.

But as we all know, the past year has been like no other, which means the executives highlighting this year’s list face challenges faced by none of the other professionals who have graced these pages. The Covid-19 crisis—in the middle of an aggressive second wave of infections as this is being written—has affected the gaming and hospitality business as bad as or worse than any other industry.

The nominees submitted to the Editorial Advisory Board throughout 2020 reflect a unique group of gaming executives who have effectively dealt with Covid-19 shutdowns, furloughs and capacity restrictions, guiding their customers, clients and shareholders through months of idleness while formulating a plan that ensures their own survival as businesses, the health of their employees, and their readiness to serve customers safely and efficiently as casinos slowly reopened with often harsh restrictions.

Operating executives have shed costs and maintained liquidity that will ensure their comeback; manufacturers have doggedly continued research and development to guarantee that when operators are ready to buy, they will have the newest innovations from which to choose.

But these 25 People to Watch will distinguish themselves, their companies and the industry in general not by what they have done to help the industry through 2020, but by what they will continue to do as the crisis stretches through the early months of this year.

These are the people who will carry our industry through the challenges of this year and into a promising future. By all indications, 2021 will constitute their finest hour.

To read profiles of all the 2021 PTW honorees click here.

People to Watch 2021

  • Mike Bean, Chief Executive Officer, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s Gaming Enterprises
  • Joe Carlon, Director of Engineering, Digital, Gaming Laboratories International
  • Cristina Romero de Alba, Partner, Loyra Abogados
  • Dean Ehrlich, Executive Vice President and Games Business Leader, Everi Holdings Inc.
  • Hector Fernandez, President, Americas, Aristocrat Technologies
  • Jose Flores, Vice President and General Manager, Gun Lake Casino
  • Mary Beth Higgins, Chief Executive Officer, Affinity Gaming
  • Daisy Ho, Chairwoman, SJM
  • Bill Hornbuckle, President and CEO, MGM Resorts International (cover)
  • Eileen Moore Johnson, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Scientific Games.
  • Melonie Johnson, President & COO, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
  • Sarah Koch, Senior Director for Legal and Government Affairs, DraftKings
  • Keith Kruczynski, Vice President, Game Development and Design, Gaming Arts, LLC
  • Dave McDowell, CEO, FSB
  • Mitsuhiro Miyazaki, Managing Director, Konami Australia Pty. Ltd.
  • Arthur Mothershed, Vice President of Business Development, Wind Creek Hospitality
  • Erika Nardini, CEO, Barstool Sports
  • Bryan Newland, Chairman, Bay Mills Indian Community
  • Michael Olujic, General Manager, Tachi Palace Casino Resort
  • Joe Pappano, CEO, Sightline
  • Kris Saw, Chief Technology Officer, Kambi
  • Tan Sri Dr. Chen Lip Keong, Founder, Controlling Shareholder and Chief Executive Officer, NagaCorp Ltd
  • Jeremy Weinstein, Regional Vice President of Marketing, Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment
  • Karen Wells, Executive Director, Massachusetts Gaming Commission
  • Adam Whitehurst, Senior Vice President, Slot Sales, AGS

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