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Making the Leap

Krystal Jones , Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia

Making the Leap

With a leap of faith, Krystal Jones made the first step in fulfilling her career-long ambition of attaining the role of chief financial officer. Working in the back office as a financial accounting manager for Caesars Entertainment, Jones learned of an opening for director of finance at Harrah’s Laughlin, an opportunity to gain hands-on operational experience.  

“I knew that applying for the role and putting my name out there for consideration would be a stretch,” Jones says, “but it was important to me that I round out my understanding of the gaming industry by adding that operational experience.”

Her experience in Laughlin catapulted her career. Jones saw a huge benefit in understanding the centralized services side of accounting while also having operational finance experience.

“Making the shift from behind-the-scenes to on-property finance led me to my current role at Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia, and I couldn’t be more grateful for taking the leap at the time.”

In her CFO role, Jones is responsible for the development and management of financial operations and strategic direction of all financial activities at the newly opened world-class gaming, dining and entertainment destination located in the Philadelphia Stadium District.

“Attaining the chief financial officer role has been a goal of mine since I started my career, and I’m so proud of myself for accomplishing it before the age of 40,” she says.

Jones joined Live! after serving as vice president of finance at Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, where she was responsible for the development and implementation of the property’s financial plan, key performance metrics and cost control objectives. She also served as the key liaison between the property and investors for all financial matters.

Previously, Jones worked as the executive director of finance at MGM National Harbor in Maryland, where she was a key member of the opening team, providing strategic direction and daily oversight for the finance division.

Jones began her career in the gaming industry as an accounts payable analyst at Caesars, where she appreciated the opportunity—unique to a casino resort destination—of being exposed to several types of businesses under one roof.

Her advice to other young professionals: always ask questions and think outside of the box. Asking questions, especially “why,” allows you to learn and fully understand the task at hand. And thinking outside of the box shows that you can add value to the company.

“Don’t be afraid to think differently than your peers or colleagues,” she advises.

“These are two pieces of advice I received early on in my career and are how I really made a name for myself—I continue to follow this myself today.”

Tom Zitt is a partner in the Innovation Group. Since joining the Innovation Group in 1997, Zitt has excelled at market analytics and high-level strategic planning, earning with his reports a reputation for accuracy and reliability unsurpassed in the gaming industry. He has assessed the economic, social, and fiscal impacts of gaming in numerous developing jurisdictions, including Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio. Zitt has also conducted regional analyses for investment firms like CIBC World Markets, Deutsche Bank, and Bear Stearns, looking to understand the impacts of new gaming development.

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