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People Who Need People

People Who Need People

It’s our seventh annual “People to Watch” issue, and as I look back on the people who have made our list over the years, it’s very impressive. Because it takes a lot of work (and guesswork) to decide who makes the list, I’m invariably surprised how accurate we’ve been in deciding who will make a difference in our industry.
Let’s start with how we choose our nominees, because that’s usually the first question I get when I inform the candidate that they’ve been chosen. And it’s a bit difficult to give a short explanation because there are various elements that go into the choice.
First of all, I am cognizant throughout the year that this annual issue is one of our most important. Therefore, I keep my own private list of who I believe can qualify. As I move around the world during the course of my Global Gaming Business travels, I meet many dynamic and important individuals. Many of these make my preliminary list.
Next, we ask our editorial advisory board (whose names you see at the right of this column) for their choices and their opinions on my list. Our writers and editors certainly have a voice, and then I consult some contacts outside the industry for their impressions of people in and out of the industry who make big impressions on them.
But even then, it’s far from over. While I don’t mean this to be “politically correct,” we have many categories we desire to fill in order to make our selections interesting to all our readers. We want to have a good representation of women and minorities. We want to include people from Indian gaming, operations, manufacturers, regulators, “thinkers,” and all facets of gaming. And then we want representation from all over the world.
This year, our initial list included more than 60 names. I don’t want to embarrass anyone by saying who didn’t make the cut, because it’s more embarrassing to me. When I end up making the cuts, it’s almost depressing the quality of people who end up on the outside looking in. But it’s always a reflection of the categories we need to include rather than the quality of the individual.
Then the list goes back to the editorial advisory board and our editors for the final OK. But invariably some of the nominees don’t want to be profiled, so we have a list of backups that we insert at the last minute. And there is no “grading” of the backups versus the initial picks. It’s just a process that takes into account all of the above notations we consider.
So now that you know the inner workings of our selection process, we introduce the People to Watch Class of ’09.
Our cover story on Andrew Pascal and the opening of Wynn Resorts’ Encore in Las Vegas was a natural. We’ve known Andrew through his many incarnations in the industry and find him to be one of the brightest and most innovative executives in the business. His approach to opening a new property in what is most certainly the worst economy ever experienced on the Las Vegas Strip is refreshing and enlightening. And Encore brings to Las Vegas a new standard for luxury. If there was something beyond five-star and five-diamond, it would be called Encore.
Since we don’t have space to outline what impressed us about each of the nominees, we’ll simply say that, given the difficult times facing the gaming industry and all the people who are part of it, the people we focus on in this edition are the very reason why there is no need to fear about our future.
Those in operations consistently voiced concerns about their employees over and above any other budget-cutting decisions. Those in the manufacturing sector have come up with some of the most inventive technology that will allow casinos to operate more efficiently and effectively. Regulators understand that their focus should be the integrity of the games and the operations. And for those involved with the customers, the opinion was that we have to take care of the players who are still coming to our properties. Remember, even though business is off an average of 20 percent in most jurisdictions, that still means 80 percent of the business is still there. Those customers are that much more important.
So take heart, fellow gaming industry members. If you were not one of the People to Watch this year, your efforts and your faith in the industry will be rewarded by staying true to the principles that make this one of the best industries in the world.
 
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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