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From Mickey Mouse to Market Maven

Phil Bernard, Vice President, Gaming Equipment, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming

From Mickey Mouse to Market Maven

Covid-19 was unsettling for Phil Bernard, vice president of research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC. The situation called for more efficient forms of communications, an at-home setup, re-purposing the dining room table and all-new routines. It required daily command decisions, “like deciding when to change out of sleepwear, so you don’t feel like a slob,” he says.

On a more serious note, the crisis created challenges that could affect the industry for years, and possibly change it forever.

“The short answer is no one knows, but you do your best to learn on a daily basis and apply that to your perspective on the market,” says Bernard. “Every nugget of news about casino closings, job losses and the severity of social restrictions gives you another indication as to what could happen.”

At Eilers & Krejcik, Bernard produces recurring market research reports as well as company earnings reports for the gaming and lottery industries. He gathers information, synthesizes it and extrapolates meaning.

“Sometimes it’s simply providing a summary. Most of the time we try to provide some more in-depth analysis to help our readers better understand the results and better inform them on what may lie ahead.”

Bernard joined Eilers & Krejcik in 2014, following a stint at Disney that began as a work-study program during his undergrad years. “The experience there was amazing,” he says. “Disney gave me the opportunity to earn a paycheck while working for an industry-leading company. It opened up doors to unique leadership opportunities not often provided to people at a relatively young age.”

After a series of promotions, Disney selected Bernard for the company’s rotational management training program. But Bernard had a competing interest in financing—he majored in both finance and marketing at Cal State. His years of operational experience made it difficult to break into another field, so he began pursuing an MBA “with a focus on strategy and finance to help support the career pivot.”

Then a career counselor saw a job listing for a gaming research firm. Bernard got the job and learned from the godfather of slot market research, Todd Eilers, founder of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.

“He took a flier on a guy with no financial market or gambling industry experience,” says Bernard. “He’s done a great job of providing guidance. He’s still providing valuable feedback and direction today.”

Bernard also credits his parents for guiding his growth. His father Bill Bednarski, from a blue-collar family in Detroit, worked his way to a full ride at Harvard. “He’s been a great source of professional advice and a great model for the benefits of lifelong determination. And my mom, Lynne Bernard, is also an inspiring figure. As a dietician, she taught me the value of taking care of yourself.”

Bernard doesn’t believe in giving advice to aspiring researchers.

“What works for one person may not be effective for another,” he says. “From my perspective, the market research and consulting gig involves being able to pull three broad skills together: effective research, financial analysis and the ability to synthesize this information to create meaning.”

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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.