When it comes to gaming law, Kate Lowenhar-Fisher wrote the book, literally.
As co-author of Gaming Law & Practice (2016-2020 editions), she helped demystify U.S. gaming from a legal perspective at a time of unprecedented growth.
For Lowenhar-Fisher, it’s all in the family. As the daughter of gaming industry veteran and poker enthusiast Jeffrey Lowenhar, president of Gaming Research, she “grew up going to the racetrack and casinos in Atlantic City,” and learned math by handicapping horses. Even as a youngster, she “found the industry to be exciting and dynamic, and saw what it could generate for local communities.”
Her previous role was as chair of the gaming and hospitality practice at the law firm Dickinson Wright. There Lowenhar-Fisher counseled the world’s leading gaming companies on regulatory issues in connection with M&A, corporate restructuring, reorganizations and financings.
Last March, she joined Everi Holdings, assuming the multipronged title of executive vice president, chief legal officer, general counsel and corporate secretary. Lowenhar-Fisher says the company stands at “a real pivot point.”
“A business that started more or less in the ATM manufacturing business is now a serious player in slot machines, gaming devices and the digital space, and is really growing by leaps and bounds. And we all know Everi as a player in fintech.”
Lowenhar-Fisher’s team is active in hundreds of jurisdictions, overseeing license applications, license renewals, major transactions and governance. “It’s incredibly exciting to be part of this company,” she says. “You’re always encountering excitement, innovation and new ideas. No one is afraid to raise their hand. Sometimes our innovators race ahead of the lawyers, but I expect that. It’s a public company with the heart of a startup.”
Everi’s multifaceted, interlocking business model reflects where the industry is going right now.
“The distinction between the games, the digital side and the fintech side is rapidly disappearing,” observes Lowenhar-Fisher. “Increasingly we’re creating that ‘digital neighborhood,’ a world where all our products work together in the casino environment. Patrons are demanding contactless and cashless solutions, loyalty product, client and gaming device product, and physical and digital. To see how they all work together is fascinating.”
How does she keep up with it all—the rapid-fire growth and change, and the chapter and verse of so many regulations? Lowenhar-Fisher says she’s always learning.
“I’ve always been comfortable with the transactional and regulatory sides. However, a big share of our business is in the financial technology side, which has a completely different regulatory regime. Some of my colleagues laugh to look at my desk, with basic, beginner books on financial technology, and Corporate Finance for Dummies.
“Let’s look at it this way—nobody can be an expert at everything. Yes, I have to be current on what makes this business hum; otherwise I wouldn’t be effective. But I rely on the experts and consultants for advice.”
How would she counsel those who would follow in her footsteps—especially young women? “Don’t focus on the obstacles,” she says. “Some people are so focused on what they perceive as holding them back. If you have to work harder or work differently, or if someone is trying to hold you back, find your way around the obstacle. And find your mentors, inside and outside your business.”
Lowenhar-Fisher thinks 2022 will be a strong year for gaming and for Everi. “We’ve weathered Covid-19 incredibly well. Customers have come back to the casinos. And despite the seemingly endless pandemic and variants, I think the outlook is outstanding.”
Of her career overall, she says, “I’m a happy lawyer, and I don’t know many happy lawyers. I landed where the grass was green on my first try.”