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Game Specialist

Caroline Byne, Director of Business Development, Konami Gaming

Game Specialist

For Caroline Byne, the gaming industry was a foregone conclusion. At the University of Nevada, Reno, she joined others with family ties to locally owned local casinos. But her interest goes beyond the families of school chums.

Byne’s grandfather, Bill “Wildcat” Morris, owned the Holiday Casino. Her father, Tom Bodensteiner, created the first Nevada-style pub, Steiner’s Cheyenne, in Las Vegas.

IGT offered Byne admittance to its trainee program in sales upon graduation from UNR in 2009. At the time, IGT was among the top employers in Reno.

“I shadowed seasoned professionals in California, Oregon, Idaho and Northern Nevada,” she says.

Her success at IGT owed a lot to a quartet of mentors. Tom Howell (account executive), JJ Jarzynka (account executive), Ben Breunig (senior director of sales), and Linda Conner (senior director of sales) all taught Byne the ropes of gambling.

“They taught me the importance of relationship selling, understanding the player, knowing operator needs and having fun!”

She left IGT in May 2016, and joined Gamblit Gaming. A member of the national sales team, Byne was responsible for opening new markets for Gamblit by working with licensed casino operators, regulators and industry groups.

Gamblit Gaming was the technology provider in the emerging space where interactive entertainment met gambling, enabling a wide range of game genres to accommodate online and on-site deployments worldwide. Founded with the goal of bridging the gap between games and gambling, Gamblit’s executive team had deep roots in both industries.

In early 2019, Byne moved to Konami Gaming, Inc., where she remains. “Working with a smaller catalog allowed me to focus on video game sales. Providing a very specific product to our Class III customers gave me a way to leverage my existing longstanding casino relationships,” she says.

During Covid, Konami upgraded and installed its Synkros system business.

Now director of business development at Konami, Byne is responsible for East Coast markets.

Manufacturers will release new titles keeping in mind the optimal audience for that game, she says.

“So much time and effort go into the development of a game, and games are created with specific players in mind. Being thoughtful in the release of a product will allow the right games to be placed in front of the right players.”

Manufacturers are also becoming increasingly specialized in their game type, whether mechanical reels, premium, or video. “I see manufacturers really narrowing their focus to put the most effort into their specialty.”

Byne’s career has brought her from coast to coast, literally. “I have traveled and worked with operators from California to Maine, to the cruise ships of Florida. I love opening new territories and bringing in new forms of gaming to those territories such as historic horse racing and Class II games. The discovery of player preferences upon opening properties in these territories versus calculated assumptions, it is exciting to see if your expectations were correct.”

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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