Stephen Maldonado, ITR Manager, Forest County Potawatomi Gaming Commission

When Stephen Maldonado first started in the gaming industry 10 years ago, his perception of what he was getting involved with was severely skewed. He recalls thinking to himself, “OK, Stephen, is this the path that you want to continue on given your technological experience and expectations?” It turns out that the answer was an overwhelming yes.

Maldonado joined the gaming industry working as a compliance engineer and field lab inspector for Gaming Laboratories International in New Jersey. After seven years in the New Jersey office, he learned about a new position opening in GLI’s Las Vegas office. And while he wasn’t sure what exactly to expect professionally, he was confident that the relocation was the right choice.

“Relocating to Las Vegas opened up doors that I didn’t even know existed, because now I was in the epicenter of gaming,” says Maldonado. “The move allowed easier access to suppliers, casino properties and other like-minded individuals that definitely helped shape my career.”

Most recently, Maldonado made the move to the regulatory side of the business, working with the Forest County Potawatomi Gaming Commission as an information technology and risk manager. This position requires full alignment with various casino networks, ensuring that the tribe’s gaming enterprises are in compliance with tribal, federal, state, county and municipal regulatory requirements through researching appropriate resources, and developing and recommending regulatory instruments.

The switch to the regulatory side of gaming gives Maldonado a unique perspective from both sides of the industry and a distinctive insight into best practices.

“It is always rewarding when you have the ability to educate other professionals and share ideas that would greatly impact day-to-day business, especially on a gaming floor,” he says. “I have been able to utilize my education and experience to form professional relationships with the ITL (independent test lab), regulators and suppliers, so they know I am always available to provide insight to the best of my ability.”

Looking forward, Maldonado’s advice to emerging leaders and young professionals who are looking to establish themselves is to focus on the emerging skill-based games.

“The emergence of skill-based gaming and eSports should be at the forefront of any gaming organization that wants to stay on the cutting edge and provide new experiences for their player base,” he suggests. “We need to find new and efficient ways to bring eSports and skill-based gaming to the casino gaming industry to appeal to millennials, as we start to see rising numbers in the younger player base.”

Maldonado hopes to grab the reins in this part of the industry and become a leader that other regulatory bodies can follow.