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Non-Gaming Growth

Elena Shampaner, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Pinnacle Entertainment

Non-Gaming Growth

Like so many in the gaming industry, Elena Shampaner got her start at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. After receiving her M.S. in hospitality administration, Elena began working for MGM Mirage. Through her dozen years in the industry, she has risen from the ranks holding positions as manager of European development for Caesars Entertainment (then Harrah’s), project director, business development manager, president’s associate, and her current role, vice president of strategic initiatives, which she holds with Pinnacle Entertainment.

Shampaner’s current position allows her to shine in what she considers an increasingly important business segment, the non-gaming side of the gaming industry.

“A good foundation was laid in 2015, sitting and looking at the pipeline,” Shampaner says.

So what exactly does 2016 and beyond hold for Shampaner? In her words, 2016 will be a year where “my people skills will be tested.”

Pinnacle will be taking several new initiatives in business strategy, some of which are in the retail area. Instead of simply supplying the outlets with new merchandise, Shampaner’s job will be to develop true partnerships with existing brands, which will tie in with Pinnacle’s own brand in some of its retail outlets throughout casinos. The idea is to tie loyalty of multiple brands together to increase overall loyalty.

Not limited to just retail, but also new dining and entertainment concepts, she will be spearheading and supporting initiatives to build these relationships. If there is someone who can handle this job, it is Shampaner, who understands not only the value of non-gaming, but also the paradigm shift the industry currently is going through.

“There are many opportunities for new revenue streams if a casino company can truly embrace the non-gaming amenities,” she says.

Shampaner’s multi-disciplinary approach was further honed upon earning her Ph.D. in hospitality administration from UNLV. In her 2012 dissertation The Non-Gaming Business of the Gaming Industry: Evaluating the Contribution of Non-Gaming Amenities at a Casino-Resort Property, one finding which came through a series of analyses was the relationship and benefit of non-gaming amenities to a property’s gaming revenue and overall success.  

While many industry people have concluded integrated resort guests are eschewing gaming in favor of other amenities, Shampaner found that an increase in spending throughout other areas actually led to an increase in gaming spending. It is findings such as these and a specialty in data analysis and research that have catapulted Shampaner to her current position.

In addition to building relationships with other companies, 2016 will be “an opportunity to show my leadership skills. I look forward to that very much,” she says.