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The Future is Now

The next generation of leaders is ready to take control today

The Future is Now

Every year, with the release of the “Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40” list, the gaming industry gets to take a peek at the leaders of the future. As the next generation of gaming leaders, the nominees are generally assumed to be on an upward trajectory that will result in CEO, COO, managing director or chairman roles at some point in the years to come. But this year, several of the honorees are already at that level. This is indicative of the increasingly important role being played by younger members of the industry.

In addition, 16 of the 40 members of the class of 2022 are women, once again demonstrating that the industry values the skills, experience and ethics of women. The industry is changing and women are taking the lead.

The Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40 program is organized by The Innovation Group and Global Gaming Business magazine. The program recognizes young professionals making significant impacts in the casino gaming industry today and in the future.

The winners were selected from more than 125 candidates nominated either by a colleague who recognized their commitment and dedication to the gaming industry or by themselves, in the interest of inclusivity and with an appreciation for self-starters.

“The past 18 months have given our industry and individuals within it the chance to innovate, to reinvent, and to reprioritize. This year’s nominees reflected that opportunity,” said The Innovation Group President Michael Soll. “The young professionals named to this year’s 40 Under 40 are not only well equipped to lead the industry out of these extraordinary times, but also uniquely informed to direct its future.”

“As always, this year’s class represents the best and the brightest of the industry, and offers a really exciting glimpse into the future of gaming,” said Roger Gros, publisher of GGB. “We’re excited about the quality and diversity of this year’s class, which indicates a changing and improving gaming industry.”

Nominations for the class of 2023 Emerging Leaders of Gaming 40 Under 40 will open in April 2022. The exact date will be announced in the March edition of GGB Magazine.

2022 Class of Emerging Leaders of Gaming, 40 Under 40

Lauren Bates, Vice President, West Games Sales, Konami Gaming, Inc.
Travis Bussey, Vice President, Hardware Engineering, Everi Holdings Inc.
Eunice Chua, Director, Global Gaming Operations, Marina Bay Sands
Justine Clay, Senior Director, CX, GAN
Brett Colbert, Director of Product Management – Global Gaming Operation, Scientific Games
Andrew Diss, Chief Strategy Officer, Meruelo Gaming
David Forman, Senior Director, Research, American Gaming Association
David Garcia, Executive Director Analytics & Optimization, Foxwoods Resort Casino
Jon Hanlin, Senior Vice President, Commercial Strategy & Business Analytics, Aristocrat
Gretchen Holzhauser, Vice President, Human Resources, Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort
Grainne Hurst, Director Corporate Affairs, Entain plc
Brandt Iden, Head of Government Affairs, U.S., Sportradar
Steven Iverson, Attorney, National Indian Gaming Commission
Krystal Jones, Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia
Lisa Kerbawy, Director of Marketing, FireKeepers Casino Hotel
Michael Lee, Executive Director of Casino Regulatory and Compliance, Venetian Macao
Heather Lee Lommori, Director of Sales, Engaged Nation
Colin Mansfield, Senior Director and Sector Head, U.S. Corporates – Gaming & Leisure, Fitch Ratings
Joseph Marchetti, Director of Systems and Audit, Gaming Laboratories International (GLI)
Jonathan Michaels, Senior Vice President, Strategic Development and Government Affairs, Sightline Payments
Russell Mifsud, Director-Head of Gaming, KPMG Malta
Laila Mintas, CEO and Board Member, PlayUp
Dennis Mullen, Director of Sports Wagering and Paid Fantasy Sports, Indiana Gaming Commission
Steph Nel, Managing Director for the Americas, TCSJohnHuxley
Vishal Patel, Engineering Manager-Technical Services Bureau, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
Michael Peacock, Associate, DLA Piper
Scott Riley, Gaming Enforcement Manager, Santa Clara Pueblo Gaming Commission
Sarah Robertson, Vice President, Sales, Kambi
Harley Rockhill, Head of Enterprise Analytics, Resorts World Las Vegas
Anna Shahbazyan, Regional Director-Latin America, BetConstruct
Vik Shrestha, President, Chorus Gaming
Jamie Smith, Director of Sales-Table Games, AGS
David Stone, Director of Sales–Canada, Incredible Technologies
Daniela Sulier, Director of Slots, Arcade and Retail Operations, Harrah’s & Harvey’s Lake Tahoe
Heather Thomas, Senior Safety Manager, San Manuel Casino
Adrian Vella, President, North America, Tipico
Richard Veltri, Chief Operating Officer, Coolbet, GAN
Sierra Weyer, Director of Enterprise Analytics, Sycuan Casino
Kate White, Vice President of Business Intelligence & IT Program Management, Penn National Gaming
Daniel Zweben, Executive Director, Moelis & Company

Below are profiles of 10 of the 40 Under 40 Winners. GGB will publish profiles of other members of the class in the months to come.

Asking Questions

David Forman, Senior Director of Research, American Gaming Association

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history from George Washington University, David Forman faced the challenge of finding employment during the peak of the Great Recession. To initially offset his lack of experience and increase his odds of finding employment, Forman spent over a year gaining experience through various internships. By doing so, Forman was able to quickly learn a wide range of skills and knowledge leading him to serve as a board fellow for the Charter Board Partners, an organization that advises Washington, D.C. charter school boards on school governance and long-term strategic planning issues.

Early on in his career, Forman learned the value of being comfortable with what he didn’t know, being able to learn on the job through asking questions when entering a new industry.

“You can ‘fake it ’til you make it’ to some extent, but it’s a lot less stressful to just ask for help or ask someone to explain how something works,” he says. This approach has proven to be very useful throughout Forman’s career, especially when learning new industries.

In 2010, Forman transitioned over to Edelman, a global communications firm, as an assistant account executive. While in this position, Forman continued to ask innovative questions and to absorb as much information and experience as possible. Forman’s ability to absorb the information around him and translate it into meaningful solutions did not go unnoticed.

Within 10 months, he began to climb Edelman’s corporate ladder, moving into the position of account executive and eventually senior account supervisor. Ultimately, Forman reached the position of vice president in the Crisis & Risk practice, where he helped clients navigate high-risk communication challenges and led the firm’s Business & Risk Intelligence group, providing clients with information used to inform strategic decision-making, to influence legal proceedings, and to alter the public narrative around high-profile issues.

Forman transitioned into the gaming industry in late 2017, after accepting the position of director of research at the American Gaming Association. At the time, Forman had no real experience in any particular industry, and absolutely none within gaming, but was intrigued by the excitement that the gaming industry offered. Within this role, Forman began to strategize the vast amounts of data the gaming industry had to offer and apply meaningful innovations.

Nine months into the position, Forman accepted the role of senior director of research, where he has been able to lead AGA’s research efforts and where he manages the production of research reports and analysis on the full spectrum of issues affecting the gaming industry, including taxation and economic issues, sports betting, responsible gaming, consumer perceptions, and regulatory matters. Forman attributes his recent success to being able to utilize AGA’s leadership and innovative work environment in order to think through issues in a productive and meaningful way. “AGA provides a lot of latitude to go out and create things or implement a new idea,” he says.

Forman attests that this has allowed him to truly be successful.

Recently, Forman has been able to focus on building out industry data sets and developing new tools to assess long-term trends. Moving forward, he says he is excited to “continue to build out relatively new products like our gaming revenue dataset and our gaming outlook index over the next year or so.

“It’s going to be interesting, and something that we hope will change how people think about AGA research, positioning us more as a hub of industry data.” —Krista McPherson is an analyst for The Innovation Group.

Mastering Slots

Jon Hanlin, Senior Vice President, Commercial Strategy & Business Analytics, Aristocrat Gaming

Jon Hanlin’s six years at Aristocrat Gaming have coincided with the greatest success in the supplier’s long history. Aristocrat game groups have become legendary player favorites, and the company’s games are consistently at the top of industry performance surveys.

As senior vice president of commercial strategy & business analytics, Hanlin sets the product roadmap for the company’s slot games and manages the rollout of those products to industry slot floors. The fact he has been singularly successful at his job—he joined Aristocrat in 2015 as a senior director and has rapidly progressed to his current executive post—has much to do with the perspective he brought to the job.

It is an operator’s perspective, gleaned from nearly 10 years with Caesars Entertainment, as the Eastern regional vice president of slots, and then all gaming. It was an invaluable education in the slot business for a person who had known nothing of the games side of the business when he started.

Hanlin’s training is in finance. After graduating from Temple University with a BA in finance (he has since earned his MBA), he joined Caesars in 2006 in Atlantic City, as a financial analyst. Within three years, he would be managing slot product for the operator.

“I entered Caesars as a labor analyst, and then moved into gaming analytics,” Hanlin says. “So, I had a basis of knowledge around how to work with numbers, and analyze a slot floor, and then a mentor of mine who now is on the board of Aristocrat, Pat Ramsey, shepherded me into slot performance and the operational world of slots. That training at Caesars is really is the foundation of the knowledge base that got me to where I am today.”

Hanlin’s education would continue at Aristocrat, where his operational expertise was applied to the process of slot development and marketing in perhaps the best atmosphere possible. He joined the company only months after the release of the mega-hit Lightning Link, and the supplier has been on a sustained roll ever since.

Hanlin says the sustained roll can be traced to the top talent in the industry. “I looked at Aristocrat as a great opportunity because they had great products,” he says. “They had just reorganized, and we talked about acquiring some of the top game design talent in the world.”

In fact, the company already had one of the top game design teams in the business, including EKG Hall of Fame members Joe Kaminkow (now chief innovation officer) and Scott Olive, along with widely respected pros including Daniel Marks (now senior VP of gaming) and Ryan Hawkins (senior VP of design & development).

Hanlin says the names added to that list, including former WMS design chief Alon Englman (now senior VP of game design) and Christmas Uberuaga (VP of the UberWins Studio), have added to what is a truly world-class design team. It also eased his transition from operator to supplier.

“I knew this collection of game design talent would drive market share and drive growth,” Hanlin says. “What I focused on immediately, and continue to focus on, is to bring the operator lens to that strategy—the relationship between the design and manufacture of games and getting them on the floor in front of players.

“When you’re on the operator side, it’s all numbers-driven. Whereas you come to the manufacturing side, it’s about what’s in the game. Part of my job is marrying the internal view of this mechanic and this theming with what the operator is going to look at—Does it perform?”

Hanlin has applied his analytics and operational expertise to make the most of Aristocrat’s talent pool.

“It’s really an honor to be a shepherd of sorts to this great product,” he says. “It’s just amazing to work with these people, because they really are creative geniuses. For them to trust me with putting their games out, and getting them out to our sales staff and into the field, is quite an honor.”

Hanlin’s advice to other emerging leaders? “Always be curious. Be open to learning new things, and find your authentic self in the world.”

From finance to the slot business, it’s clear Hanlin has found his own authentic self. —Frank Legato

Government Oversight

Jonathan Michaels, Senior Vice President, Strategic Development and Government Affairs, Sightline Payments

For Sightline Payments, it’s been a big year. Just a few months ago, the company celebrated becoming Nevada’s first fintech unicorn—a company worth $1 billion or more. Part of the benefits of that designation is that Sightline was able to hire a stable of talented executives from all sides of the industry in all disciplines. One of them was Jonathan Michaels, who is in charge of strategic development and government affairs.

Michaels’ big break in the industry came when he was hired by the American Gaming Association, a few years removed from the University of Maryland, to run the organization’s membership program in 2014. This job didn’t exist earlier at the AGA because membership was strictly limited to gaming companies and recruitment wasn’t necessary. But that changed when Geoff Freeman became president and CEO. He tasked Michaels with expanding membership by attracting non-gaming companies that were active in various parts of gaming, as well as tribal gaming enterprises.

“You have to remember that in 2014, the gaming industry was a vastly different place,” he says. “Tribes were prohibited from becoming members of the AGA by the bylaws. Sports betting legalization wasn’t even being considered. Online gaming was really just in New Jersey. We decided we needed to go after companies that were peripherally involved with gaming and give them a voice and a seat at the table.”

Expanding the AGA’s membership was only the start for Michaels. He was involved in many initiatives driven by the AGA, including its establishment of best practices in cashless payments, a key reason he was recruited by Sightline.

At Sightline, Michaels says he’s responsible for three areas—government affairs, corporate communications, and strategic development, that he calls the “catch-all bucket.”

“That’s leveraging my experience with the AGA and how we grow our business,” he says. “We don’t want to do the same old expansion. Can we do business with stadiums or different casino options? It’s been about eight months now and I’ve been loving every minute of it.”

He believes that cashless payments are the wave of the future, and the acceptance by operators and casino customers will quickly accelerate.

“If you provide a technology that is going to make your players’ lives easier, they’re going to use it,” he says. “And from the operator’s perspective, the single biggest thing that gets undersold in all of this is that the cost of cash is enormous. There was a study done recently that determined the cost of processing $100 in cash was between $5 and $15! At Resorts World Las Vegas, they don’t want the pit bosses being bean counters. They want them interacting with the guests and creating a great experience, because that’s more productive for the company.”

Michaels recognizes the people who helped him on the way up. He cites Ron Rosenbaum, a creative executive at the AGA at the time who recruited him.

“Ron taught me the value of teamwork,” says Michaels. “I was so used to working with a strict division of responsibility. Ron said that didn’t matter and that our job was to get it done, and there’s no line of where your role stops and someone else’s begins.”

He also credits Sara Slane, the AGA leader on sports betting now running her own business, and Elizabeth Cronan, who headed government affairs for the AGA and is now in the same role for GeoComply. He says that AGS leader David Lopez wanted his team to think like CEOs, and that really impacted him.

At Sightline, he’s working with people he’s known for years.

“(Co-CEOs) Joe (Pappano) and Omer (Sattar) I’ve been working with since the beginning of my tenure at the AGA,” he says. “I’m very familiar with them and they’ve had a huge influence on my career, obviously.”

Why would people pursue a career in gaming? Michaels says it’s an easy sell.

“One of my old professors at the University of Maryland who taught sports management also taught one gaming course each semester,” he explains. “I spoke almost every semester to the class. Nobody in that class was thinking about gaming as a career, but I came in to say it can be. We need to get that message across. Who wouldn’t want to work in that business right now? Sports betting is hot. Payments are driving technology innovation. The future of the gaming industry is incredibly bright.” —Roger Gros

A CEO and a Mother

Laila Mintas, CEO and Board Member, PlayUp

For Laila Mintas, her career has been one of challenges met, challenges overcome. It’s working. She’s now CEO of PlayUp U.S., a division of the online-only sports betting and fantasy sports company.

Mintas got into sports betting in law school at Humboldt University in her native Germany when she wrote her Ph.D. thesis on online sports betting. The thesis became a book. At the same time, she felt the laws in Germany posed a problem when it came to sportsbooks; the country ran them as a monopoly, keeping private bookmakers out, she says.

“I felt it was a conflict and I came to the result that it violates European law and needed to be removed,” Mintas says. “A year after my book was published, the European Court decided in the same direction, confirming my thesis.”

She landed a job with FIFA and the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football before taking a position in New Jersey to work for Sportradar.

“I helped build Sportradar’s U.S. business up to a market share of over 85 percent. There was nothing I could learn or solve from there on. It would just have been copy and paste, which is nothing I was interested in doing. That’s why I moved on. I left when we hit the valuation of $2.4 billion,” Mintas says.

Mintas moved to Las Vegas and created Dr. Mintas Consulting. She invested in tech companies in the sports betting arena, building up a portfolio.

“When I met with PlayUp, I was very intrigued by the proprietary technology,” she says.

Another challenge met when she took a job with the company.

“Having been the first employee, I built the U.S. market for PlayUp from scratch, to now being an operator—live in two markets, New Jersey and Colorado, with various launches coming up shortly for sports betting, iGaming and horse racing,” Mintas says.

In her role as CEO, Mintas is involved in all strategic decisions in the U.S., even on a global level.

Throughout, Mintas has been the only woman in an executive role at the company.

“This is something that needs to urgently change in our society,” she insists. “Gender, race and religion shouldn’t matter.”

As a mother of two young children, Mintas saw Covid as another challenge to master.

“It has been interesting working finally from home after I was traveling around 200 days a year,” she says. “We were able to organize our day-to-day in a way that allowed us to spend more quality time together but also to run the business efficiently.”

Throughout her career, Mintas has considered obstacles as just another challenge.

“I always tried to see obstacles as opportunities to think outside the box and to be innovative and creative,” she says. “Those have been the situations that have let me grow to the person that I am today.”

As for her own approach, Mintas stopped planning a long time ago.

“Life always comes different anyway,” she says. “I learned to listen to all advice I can get but then to make a decision based on what I feel comfortable with, no matter what other people think or say. My advice would be to make your own decision.” —Bill Sokolic

Turning Tragedy into Triumph

Scott A. Riley, Gaming Enforcement Manager, Santa Clara Pueblo Gaming Commission

Scott A. Riley has a desire for helping and uplifting others to succeed. Growing up, he always believed he would use this trait to inspire the next generation as a teacher. However, after a devastating tragedy in his life, Riley eventually found his passion for the tribal gaming industry and devotion to the success of tribes, not just in the Southwest, but across the country.

Riley had a humble upbringing; as an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, he grew up on the reservation in New Mexico and was raised by his grandparents from birth. Riley’s ambition was to study mathematics and become a teacher for his tribe. That all changed when his grandfather passed away while he was away at college. Riley returned home, and without much certainty on which direction he wanted to take his career, took a job in surveillance at one of the nearby gaming operations.

After learning the industry for two years from the operation side, Riley applied for the tribal gaming regulatory body for the Pueblo of Acoma. This turning point catapulted his career, and after a short while he realized that his decision to move to the regulatory side was the best career choice he could have made.

While working for the Pueblo of Nambé, Riley discovered that his new career path aligned with his personal and professional values of integrity and humility, traits he learned from both of his grandfathers. He found that by working for a tribal gaming regulatory body, he was able to assist tribes achieve their goals of self-government, self-sufficiency and self-determination. Riley credits his decision to pursue a position on the regulatory side as the point when he knew he wanted to spend his career working in the tribal gaming industry.

Today, Riley is employed by the Santa Clara Pueblo Gaming Commission and was recently named acting gaming enforcement manager. In this position, he is responsible for overseeing the regulatory enforcement activities at the pueblo’s gaming operation. After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico, Riley is pursuing a graduate degree in legal studies at Arizona State University. He is passionate about his work and considers it to be a “privilege” to assist the tribes he works with in achieving their goals as sovereign nations.

Riley credits his passion for helping tribes succeed to both of his grandfathers. While his maternal grandparents raised him, he grew up with strong relationships with both his maternal and paternal grandfathers.

“Both of my grandfathers were devoted to serving the people of Laguna Pueblo unconditionally,” he says. “It is their strength and wisdom that is instilled in me to continue being devoted to serving tribal nations. I will continue to walk the path that they have made in hopes that someday I can return the same respect to the next generation of leaders.”

It is from his grandfathers that Riley learned that commitment to the success of tribal communities leads to a meaningful life.

Riley acknowledges those who have had a great impact on his career and on his life. He specifically mentions how his daughters drive and motivate him, and that it is very important to make them proud.

“When facing adversity, I think about my daughters,” he says. “They help me realize how precious life’s gifts are and to be appreciative for the days ahead. Teaching them that success is achieved by learning from mistakes, failure, challenges, and overcoming our fears.”

Riley says these traits help him triumph over life’s obstacles. —Alex Goldstein is an analyst with The Innovation Group

A Canadian In London

Sarah Robertson, Vice President, Sales, Kambi

Canadian native Sarah Robertson obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of New Brunswick in 2010. And with that degree in hand, she entered the gaming industry through a job with Income Access, a digital marketing company for iGaming and other affiliate services, based in Montreal.

“Montreal is a fun place to live,” Robertson says of the seven years she spent at the company. “Montreal’s iGaming space is made up of a lot of young people. There was a great opportunity for a lot of growth.”

However, in 2018, Robertson moved to London to join Kambi and its global sales team. Kambi provides premium sports betting services to licensed gaming operators globally, with its end-to-end sports betting services including odds compiling, customer intelligence and risk management, built on an in-house developed software platform.

“There are unlimited possibilities in gaming, and you can start anywhere. You can find what interests you and find a good mentor—that really helped me. From a technology standpoint, gaming is at the forefront in many ways, especially in sports betting companies like Kambi,” Robertson says.

Some of Robertson’s mentors included Nicky Senyard, founder and previous CEO of Income Access; Sarafina Wolde Gabriel, vice president of strategy for Income Access; and Cecilia Wachtmeister, executive vice president of group and business functions at Kambi.

“They are all great examples of successful women in gaming, and they gave me a lot of the tools to succeed,” she says. “They really helped develop my skill sets.”

At Kambi, where Robertson holds the position of vice president of sales, she works with top-tier global operators to lead through sales and partnership opportunities. To date, Kambi has more than 30 partners.

“The core focus of our business is on North America, with Canada a focus now, too,” she says, with Ontario having approved single-event wagering and other provinces expected to follow suit. “Kambi is excited for the launch of regulated single-event wagering, and we look forward to successful partnerships in Canada.”

So, how does Kambi stay competitive? “We are singularly focused on sports betting, meaning we know what it takes to succeed in this market and are not distracted by other verticals,” Robertson says. “We are sports-only focused, with a business and platform built by sports and sports betting enthusiasts.”

More recently, Kambi has increased its focus on the esports opportunity with its acquisition of esports data and technology company Abios.

“We have a dedicated in-house team for esports, and it’s long been a focus of ours,” she says. “We hope to create synergy with Abios, and we look forward to working with them to create a best-in-class esports product.”

When it comes to Robertson’s future, she says there’s an exciting opportunity and room to grow at Kambi in the next few years.

“I believe the future is extremely bright for Kambi, and I am really excited to play my part in its ongoing success.” —Bill Sokolic

Cool Start

Richard Veltri, Chief Operating Officer, Coolbet, GAN

People come to gaming as a profession for very different reasons. For Richard Veltri, three reasons stood out: the sheer diversity of the industry, its complexity, and its global reach. “Those are the main reasons I still find the gaming industry exciting,” says Veltri, chief operating officer of Coolbet, a division of GAN. “I was initially attracted by the technological challenge and opportunity to build a proprietary sportsbook solution.”

As COO, Veltri has a hand in a lot of pies day-to-day.

“I have a fantastic team which consists of sportsbook operations (online and retail), casino and games, business development, cybersecurity, business intelligence, project management and quality assurance,” he says.

That covers just about everything.

Veltri grew up in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. He earned a bachelor of science in engineering, electronics and telecommunication and an MBA degree from TalTech in his hometown. He spent more than 10 years in telecommunications, IT and marketing before joining Coolbet in 2016 as project manager and data protection officer in the Estonia office.

Covid-19 has changed the way he and his colleagues work and collaborate.

“We have had to adjust on finding a new way for effective remote working and to ensure that people remain engaged, motivated and creative,” says Veltri, who relaxes by going on long-distance runs, which tend to be meditative. “Moreover, due to remote work, topics around mental health and emotional well-being at the workplace have become more important than ever before.”

Was the impact of Covid-19 an obstacle in Veltri’s career? Perhaps, but he has developed a philosophy when it comes to these situations.

“I firmly believe that one of many superpowers we all possess is the ability to change our perspective,” he says. “When doing so, we open up a whole new set of possibilities, and we may turn our obstacles into opportunities. Some of the best ways to help us obtain a new perspective from my personal experience is to listen to your colleagues, ask more questions, collect data, reflect and lay down the facts.”

That said, when it comes to the gaming industry, the most influential person for Veltri has been Anders Karlsen, his predecessor at Coolbet and the current president of GAN B2C.

“While being very pragmatic, he always values the individual and has put people first and foremost. This has absolutely been the main success factor in terms of growth, innovation and ultimately long-term shareholder value,” he says.

But in the end, it’s about the self. “Listen and trust your instincts even more than in the past,” Veltri says. —Bill Sokolic

Data Decisions

Sierra Weyer, Director of Enterprise Analytics, Sycuan Casino Resort

Bridging the divide between data and business operations is the quintessential challenge for any analytics professional, and Sierra Weyer is uniquely equipped to overcome this challenge. Her on-the-ground experience early in her career cultivated the operator mindset needed to be successful in this area, and makes her more than deserving of the emerging leader distinction.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, a career in the casino gaming industry was a natural fit for Weyer. After obtaining her bachelor of science in hospitality and gaming management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Weyer joined Scientific Games in 2016, where she led on-site software implementations. Training customers on casino systems was a key part of her role at Scientific Games, and this experience helped build the front-of-house mindset that would be pivotal in her transition to analytics.

“I was on the floor training table games employees how to input ratings into a new system or working with marketers on optimizing their promotions,” she says. “This allowed me to truly understand the operational processes, and I carried that understanding with me as I moved into analytics.”

Weyer’s transition to analytics began in 2018 when she joined the casino optimization team at the Venetian as an analyst. Her talent in this field was quickly recognized, and, in less than two years, Weyer moved from an analyst to her current role as director of enterprise analytics at Sycuan.

Weyer achieved her ongoing growth by building a supportive network and a group of mentors. She continues to build on the strengths that have led to her career success by participating in industry groups, such as Global Gaming Women, and pursuing a master’s degree in business administration.

Looking to the future, Weyer is excited to grow the analytics team at Sycuan Casino. Weyer is motivated by the fact that her hard work and expertise both result in positive impact to the tribal community. Weyer knows a strong analytics team with collaborative ties to front-line managers is critical to future casino success. She is thrilled to build a steadfast culture between analytics and operations needed for data-driven decision making at Sycuan. —Chloe Paul is manager of analytics for The Innovation Group

Intelligent Business

Kate White, Vice President of Business Intelligence & IT Program Management, Penn National Gaming

When Kate White grew up in Las Vegas, the mantra she heard over and over was “Don’t get into the gaming industry.” So, she spent more than 10 years at a successful startup,, which books hotels, shows and the like. You can guess what happened.

“I wanted a bigger challenge in a larger industry. When I found out how much actually goes into operating a casino, I was hooked,” White says.

Armed with a B.A. in business administration from the University of Nevada, Reno, White worked in various capacities at, much of it associated with business intelligence.

“Data is our industry’s most underutilized asset,” she says. “The casino creates so much rich information that could be used to advance our industry in ways that haven’t been explored before—bringing that information to our leaders and changing the way this industry thinks of the future.”

White’s first position within the industry was in business intelligence at Pinnacle Entertainment. Less than three years later, she joined Penn National Gaming, where she now serves now as vice president of business intelligence and IT program management, a mouthful of a title.

“As the leader of our BI efforts, we liaison to all our property teams to get them the information they need to make decisions,” White says. “We help facilitate getting real-time key performance indicators and dashboards into the hands of our 40-plus properties across the U.S. Along with that, I also oversee our technology project management efforts.”

As Penn National continues its transition into a technology company, White helps supervise multimillion-dollar projects for new technology platforms, services, and enhancements to a digital footprint. White cites the latest push, a large cashless project. “I’m helping oversee as we get digital wallet, Bluetooth card-in and funding all from our in-house developed mobile app.”

Like everyone else, White had to deal with the impact of Covid-19.

“I’m still acclimating to the new post-Covid work life,” she admits. “Our corporate officers continue to work from home, and it’s been an interesting challenge to maintain professional relationships virtually.”

The desire to take on any new challenge has shaped White’s success.

“At many points in my career, new opportunities arose, and instead of holding back out of fear of failure, I engaged, fully knowing I may not get it 100 percent right, but I’d do the best job I possibly could.”

The one mentor who resonates with White a lot today is Penn National CEO Jay Snowden.

“He’s shown us what it means to step out of your comfort zone and take on new things to really grow this industry,” she says.

White hopes to remain at the forefront of change and innovation in gaming. Her advice to her younger self—and it applies to newcomers to the industry—“Never stop learning about your industry, your company and yourself. You’ll continue to grow as long as you continue to be inquisitive and push for positive change.” —Bill Sokolic

Career Investment

Daniel Zweben, Executive Director, Moelis & Company

Daniel Zweben, executive director at Moelis & Company, brings unique experience to clients to address the gaming industry of today. With early exposure to both online gaming and the media industry, Zweben sees both sides of the equation in an increasingly important relationship between the industries. With over 10 years of investment banking experience coupled with a career start as an M&A lawyer, Zweben is poised to play a leadership role in the gaming industry’s dynamic transactions of the future.

Since joining Moelis in July 2018, Zweben has focused on gaming, digital media, film and television, and sports and esports transactions. He has contributed to the completion of multiple high-profile transactions including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, debt and equity financings, leveraged buyouts, and restructurings. Since joining, Zweben has advised on over 20 transactions, representing prominent gaming and media industry clients. Prior to joining Moelis, Zweben was a director at Lazard covering gaming and media clients and an associate at UBS Investment Bank in the company’s Financial Institutions Group. Prior to that, he was an M&A lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

How did Zweben become involved in the gaming industry? Upon moving from New York to Los Angeles in 2014, he began covering both gaming and media clients, including casino operators and B2B technology suppliers, mobile gaming companies, movie studios, esports, and digital media companies. The repeal of the federal sports betting ban in 2018 would lead these industries to collide.

Zweben notes a few trends across the sports betting industry that highlight this convergence. First, in the battle for customers, the industry will continue to see the intersection of media, entertainment and gaming. Zweben sees that fans are looking for deeper engagement and expects that richer and more robust statistical and analytical integrations and other betting-focused enhancements to telecasts and streams will continue to enhance the user experience.

Zweben is thankful for the many mentors that he has worked with and learned from throughout his career.

Zweben holds a B.S.M. in finance and economics from Tulane University and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. His personal interests include travel and new dining experiences, and spending time with his wife Lauren and two sons, Grayson and Parker. —Michael Soll is president of The Innovation Group