Michael Mitten has established himself as a young, up-and-coming executive in the casino industry by living under one simple mantra: “Question everything and everyone.”
This idea was established early in his career through his various interactions with his previous boss and mentor, former Seneca Gaming Senior Vice President (and current Genting New York President) Mike Speller. Mitten jokes that Speller was the hardest person to converse with because he always asked questions and bantered about, keeping everyone on their toes.
Mitten’s career began in 1996 with the opening of the Casino Rama in Ontario, Canada. Part of that opening team, he was brought in as a table games dealer. The fast-paced action of table games, coupled with the rush and stress of opening a new property, quickly became an atmosphere that Mitten excelled at and enjoyed. As he sought out career growth opportunities and continued to hone his skills, he found himself attracted to the long nights and hard work associated with the opening of a new property.
This desire drove him to a series of table games positions in the Northeast, as a dual-rate dealer for the grand opening of the Greektown Casino in Detroit in 2001, and as a table games supervisor in Niagara Falls, New York, in 2003, for the opening of the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel.
This high-intensity, hard-working ethic instilled in him from his early years has proved to be a key ingredient to his success. Even in his current position as vice president of table games at Seneca Niagara Casino & Resort, he found himself engrained in a grand opening, of sorts. Described by Mitten as one of the proudest moments of his career, Seneca Gaming Corporation opened the Buffalo Creek casino facility in nearby Buffalo, New York. The corporation allowed team members to transfer to Buffalo Creek from the Niagara Falls facility.
As such, the Niagara table games department that Mitten leads experienced an exodus of roughly 40 percent of his staff. The staff left for Buffalo for convenience or promotion, leaving a gaping hole in Mitten’s department.
Mitten was then in a mode of hiring, training and monitoring performances, tasks very similar to those required during a grand opening. His ability to deal with this fast-paced and stressful situation was illustrated during this period, and helped contribute to the success of both facilities in the long term. Mitten says he considers it a privilege to have been afforded the opportunity to be a part of the transition team, and is grateful for the faith and trust that the company puts in him in crucial transitional times.
Mitten prides himself on his ability to not only succeed, but to thrive in difficult situations. Of course, he attributes it to his mentors and advisers throughout his career, but he also attributes it to various characteristics that he has developed along the way.
Mitten notes his natural problem-solving ability coupled with his calm demeanor and high composure as key ingredients to his success. He says that these characteristics have allowed him to adapt and to successfully manage the rapid growth within the Seneca Gaming Corporation. When stressful situations arise, Mitten reminds himself of the time-tested table games mantra to “never let them see you sweat.”