GGB is committed to providing updated news and analysis on our weekly news site, GGBNews.com.

Investment Advice

Kyle Bender, Managing Director, Gaming, J.P. Morgan

Investment Advice

Shortly after his April arrival at J.P. Morgan as Managing Director and Head of Gaming, Kyle Bender led a team that advised and provided financing for the announced acquisition of Caesars Entertainment by Eldorado Resorts.

The deal was just the latest transaction for the Los Angeles native since he graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. Penn exposed Bender to investment banking and the skills needed for his career choices, which started when he returned to Los Angeles after graduation.

“I began as a generalist at Banc of America Securities but joined the gaming investment banking team about six months in. I have dedicated most of the last 16 years to covering the sector,” he says.

As an analyst, Bender faced a challenge during the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008. His team at Banc of America relocated to New York, so for him to continue covering gaming in Los Angeles, he moved to UBS Securities. From UBS, he joined Jeffries & Company for two years, followed by more than six years with Macquarie Group.

In terms of his progression, Bender took time to get the transition right from execution responsibilities to client management. “It takes a different set of skills to be successful in client management,” he says.

Early in Bender’s career, his focus was on deal execution—making sure things got done.

“In my current role as a sector head, most of my energy goes into developing and maintaining relationships with companies, generating financing and advisory opportunities and managing a team of talented people. It’s my responsibility to deliver J.P. Morgan’s capabilities and first class advice to our clients,,” he says.

One of the lessons Bender learned over the years is that reputation is very important.

“Gaming is a small industry, so if you have a poor reputation, that can follow you around.”

For Bender, the most interesting evolution to watch revolves around the growth of legal online gaming. As states roll out mobile sports betting, there is a good chance it could normalize digital gaming and lead to more states going full online as exists in New Jersey, he says.

“I don’t believe this will replace land-based gaming, but rather act as a complement and player development mechanism,” he says. “The rollout of expanded gaming is already leading to some exciting business relationships between casino operators and leading betting companies.”

Now a veteran analyst, Bender has his ideas on how novices can succeed. Most important? Develop and maintain relationships with senior team members at the outset of your career.

“In my experience, if you work hard and contribute to your team’s success, the people you work with are likely to take an active interest in your career development,” he says. “I remain close to many of the people who supported me when I was a young banker.”

Avatar
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.

    Related Articles

  • Fantasy Career

    Brandon Loeschner, Partner, National Practice Leader-Gaming Services, RubinBrown

  • Starting Tomorrow, Today

    Allen Schultz, Director of Slot Performance, San Manuel Casino

  • Diversity in Finance

    Teri Chan Palomaki, Vice President of Finance, Scientific Games

  • Sports Super Fan

    Max Meltzer, Chief Commercial Officer, Kambi

  • Big Buyer

    Luciana Van Sickle, Global Strategic Sourcing Manager, Aristocrat Technologies

    Recent Feature Articles

  • Guiding Light

    GLI doubles down on helping clients get through and recover from the pandemic

  • That’s Entertainment!

    Showrooms and lounges will come back, but when? Entertainment experts give their best guesses.

  • Southern Exposure

    Why gaming in the South is one of the last opportunities in the U.S.

  • Non-Gaming: 7 Back-to-Basic Tips

    Re-imagining the non-gaming assets and amenities casinos already have

  • Bigger Balls

    Lottery organizations that operate sports betting do it for different reasons than public companies and casinos. What does that say for the future of the industry?