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Lauren Bates

Executive Director, Global Gaming Women

Lauren Bates

Global Gaming Women was formed in 2011 under the auspices of the American Gaming Association. The organization struck out on its own in 2016, and within a few years membership has exploded thanks to the pandemic.

Lauren Bates, formerly with Aristocrat Technologies, was appointed executive director last year and explains how the group is hoping to ramp up its international membership in the next year. She spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at the GGB offices in Boulder City, Nevada in April. To hear and view a full podcast of this interview, visit GGBMagazine.com.

Global Gaming Women was formed in 2011 under the auspices of the American Gaming Association. The organization struck out on its own in 2016, and within a few years membership has exploded thanks to the pandemic.

Lauren Bates, formerly with Aristocrat Technologies, was appointed executive director last year and explains how the group is hoping to ramp up its international membership in the next year. She spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at the GGB offices in Boulder City, Nevada in April. To hear and view a full podcast of this interview, visit GGBMagazine.com.

GGB: Tell us what happened when Global Gaming Women split off from the AGA.

Bates: One of the big things was the AGA has lots of initiatives that they’re working on and they’re focused on. So from an industry perspective, I think everyone recognized the importance of Global Gaming Women and the need to really have an organization that could solely focus on the challenges and the needs of women in our industry. So that gave us the opportunity to dive in a little bit deeper and to really become our own organization. Virginia McDowell and Phyllis Gilland and all the other founders had called on their contacts within the industry to get this organization up and started, so the time was right.

GGW has grown tremendously over the past several years. How many members do you have now, and how “global” are you?

When I came aboard, Cassie Stratford and Christie Eickelman were really focused on sustainability. How do we serve this organization to be sustainable? For me, it’s now strategic growth. We’re up to about 8,000 members total right now. A little under a thousand of that is actually outside of North America. We are growing quickly. We actually saw exponential growth during Covid. Initially, the organization started and was a very Vegas-focused. But when Covid happened, we were forced to pivot and come up with new ways to deliver our programming and reach our members. So as we started going online and including additional offerings virtually, our international database actually grew significantly. I will say one of our 2024 strategic initiatives is international growth, and the three markets that we are focusing on specifically are Canada, Europe, and then Australia/New Zealand.

What are some of the benefits of joining GGW?

The list of benefits continues to grow. Education is at the foundation of our offering, so we’re really continuing to invest, and thanks to the generous gifts from our sponsors and partners we really are able to put together and work with industry partners to curate the best content for leadership development.

How do you get these top executives to become mentors?

Mentorship in general is typically a very organic process. Through that networking, as you’re continuing to expand your professional and personal networks, you have the opportunity to interact with others. One of the things that we realized early on was, unlike a lot of our male counterparts who get invited to the golf course or cigar lounges or whatever, we didn’t have as many of those opportunities, or we just weren’t getting those invites. So how can we kind of put together these opportunities? It’s through our stand-alone events and events at trade shows and conferences.

We actually have two really exciting initiatives that we’re launching in 2024. One of them is going to be our advisory board. We’re going to people like Virginia McDowell and some of our emeritus and founding members to serve so they can continue to give back and reinvest in the board and senior leadership to provide mentorship opportunities.

And then we also are going to be launching something called the “One Up One Down Mentorship Program.” We’re in current beta pilot, and we’ll be launching by the end of this year. Women will actually be able to go online, and it’s almost like a dating app. You’ll be able to fill out a profile and say, here are my skill sets, this is what I’m looking to learn. And then through algorithms, you’ll actually be matched with potential mentors. And you can set it up either as a mentor or a mentee.

You mentioned GGW education as being the key component of the organization. Explain how that works.

The Global Gaming Women Education Fund—the official name—is at the foundation of what we do. We offer various aspects. We have our leadership pyramid education classes—basically a leadership development program. We have various different levels. So we have our foundations, which is going to be our entry-level leadership, another which is for middle management, and then another level for senior executives. And we also offer scholarships, thanks to the generous sponsorships from many of our partners.

You are a mother, and a lot of the women who are working in gaming are mothers and professionals. Do you talk about how you can balance family life along with your professional career?

Yes, 100 percent. I’ll share my personal experience. One of the most meaningful things for me in my original introduction to GGW was through my Lean-In Circle. When I had an 11-month-old baby and Covid shut down the world, Holly Gagnon started sending me food from New York via Whole Foods, because I was scared. We talk about that all the time. Everyone always asks, “How do you do it?” And my answer is typically, some days better than others. Other days we are just surviving, and that’s OK. It’s also just sharing some tips and tricks about what worked for me or look out for this. That’s been a very powerful thing, especially to the women who have taken me under their wing.

Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business, the industry's leading gaming trade publication, and all its related publications. Prior to joining Global Gaming Business, Gros was president of Inlet Communications, an independent consulting firm. He was vice president of Casino Journal Publishing Group from 1984-2000, and held virtually every editorial title during his tenure. Gros was editor of Casino Journal, the National Gaming Summary and the Atlantic City Insider, and was the founding editor of Casino Player magazine. He was a co-founder of the American Gaming Summit and the Southern Gaming Summit conferences and trade shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, How to Win at Casino Gambling (Carlton Books, 1995), now in its fourth edition. Gros was named "Businessman of the Year" for 1998 by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Gaming Association in 2012.

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