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Finders Keepers

Lauren Bates, Vice President, West Games Sales, Konami Gaming, Inc.

Finders Keepers

Lauren Bates will be the first to tell you she didn’t seek a position in the casino industry.

“If I’m being honest, gaming found me,” says Bates, an Ohio State grad who grew up in Mentor, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb.

Bates went out to Las Vegas to visit a high school friend. But before she left, she sent out some resumes in the hopes she could land an interview and practice her technique.

Being in the resort opened her eyes.

“I was slowly falling in love with Vegas, the potential opportunity, and gaming and hospital lifestyle,” Bates says.

A recruiter sent Bates to Konami Gaming for an interview. The company offered a position contingent on her starting immediately. And 15 years later, Bates still works for Konami as vice president, West game sales.

In her position—which covers territory west of Oklahoma—Bates develops and manages a team of sales professionals, driving revenue, charged with the development and execution of annual business strategy.

Remaining with Konami all these years, Bates has experienced an industry in constant evolution and expansion.

“Whether it’s new functionality like cashless play or opening new market segments such as sports betting or historical horse racing, there’s always something new and exciting,” she says.

Bates feels fortunate to work on both the games and system sides of Konami.

“When I initially started, many of the decisions made were relationship-based,” Bates explains. “While relationships and rapport are still critical to successful business partnerships, decisions are a lot more analytical these days.”

The pandemic, Bates says, was a game changer. “I was out on maternity leave, preparing to return to work when the world closed on March 16. My plans of easing back into work while caring for my newborn son, Will, quickly changed.”

Bates feels patience, hard work and tenacity can conquer any obstacle, including Covid-19. She believes in the age-old mantra: don’t take no for an answer.

“‘No’ means not right now, so understand why you got that response and do the work to improve and prepare for the next opportunity,” she says.

Asked about mentors, Bates gives her props to David and Gayle Eble, her parents.

“My mom and dad have been my biggest cheerleaders since day one, and words will never be enough to describe how grateful I am to them and all they’ve taught me,” says Bates, who spends her rare free time with her husband, Jim, and Will, “like the importance of hard work, empathy and kindness, how to balance a career while raising a family.”

Another mentor is hubby Jim, a retired gaming executive. “I am extra lucky to call this man my best friend, husband and mentor. With over 30 years in gaming, he’s worked on both the operator and manufacturer sides of the business. There isn’t a market he hasn’t worked in or product that he hasn’t sold.”

And there’s Global Gaming Women, where Bates serves as vice president.

“I have the privilege of working with some of the most incredible female executive leaders in the industry. Each of them provides invaluable guidance and perspective with a unique and diverse skill set.”

If she could offer advice to her younger self, Bates would urge three things. “Have patience. It’s going to work out and be better than you ever imagined; trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t; stop trying to be who everyone else wants you to be. Your authentic self is what makes you great and got you where you are today.”

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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