Over a 16-year career, Skyelar Perkins has risen through the ranks at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s Division of Commerce. Starting in 2002 as a part-time environmental services employee at the Choctaw Travel Plaza in Durant, Perkins worked his way from the security department to slot attendant in 2006. His work ethic and push for professional development have propelled him to corporate senior director of slot operations, a position all the more impressive considering the scale of operations.
Choctaw Casinos & Resorts operates nearly 10,000 machines consisting of numerous Class II and Class III manufacturers across 22 properties in southeastern Oklahoma. The flagship property Choctaw Casino & Resort-Durant offers a sophisticated level of hospitality reflected through the unique culture of the Choctaw Nation.
Perkins credits a large part of his success to the professional lessons his father taught him before he even graduated high school. Budgeting, commitment, hard work, and sticking to your word—Perkins may not have fully appreciated the import of such lessons as a child, but today he recognizes how “tremendously” they have paid off.
“I have continually found those lessons to hold true throughout my professional development and growth, finding myself regularly reciting the same lessons I received to those I am leading,” he says.
Perkins is passing those lessons on to the next generation of gaming employees as an adjunct instructor in Native American gaming management at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, even as he himself is committed “to never stop learning and growing.”
As he explains, “I am always looking for opportunities both formally and informally to add tools to my leadership bag, learn new approaches to business, or learn about new subjects. I always want to be able to help those around me who are also looking to grow, and I hope this mindset will always keep me prepared to give them the guidance they need.”
In the gaming world, the trends he is following are legalization of sports books in new jurisdictions, esports, skill-based gaming and cashless gaming floors. He is always on the lookout for breakthrough games—the next “Wheel of Fortune”—that will attract new customers to the slot floor.
Perkins is also excited about the new 2,000-seat esports stadium—the largest in the U.S.—being developed in Arlington, Texas. The Dallas-Fort Worth area is a key market for the Durant casino, and Perkins is exploring ways to leverage the Arlington stadium into new visitors to Durant.
On a personal basis, he strives to be the best role model possible for his 10-year-old son, Aidan, and 7-year-old daughter, Laysen, “both by lessons taught and how I act in my daily life. I also work to be the best partner I can be to my Player 2, Candace.”
Having married into the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Perkins appreciates how the tribe treats him like a member.
“The tribe understands what family really represents, and it’s a lot more than just being blood. You see it directly reflected in everything they do as a company, living out the Chahta spirit of faith, family and culture.”
Perkins enjoys console gaming with his children and friends, his recent Saturdays filled with long sessions of Fortnight with his son. His favorite franchises are Halo and Zelda. He has also been playing the trumpet for 24 years and once toured in Europe in an orchestra. Perkins has bachelor of science and master of science degrees from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, as well as several gaming certifications from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and Reno.