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THE VISIONARIES 6th Annual 25 People To Watch

The annual 25 People the Watch List in Global Gaming Business Magazine is one of the most prestigious honors any gaming executive can receive. And this year is no exception. Starting with Kazuo Okada, the chairman of Aruze Corp. and vice chairman of Wynn Resorts, the important people featured in the January issue are bound to have an impact on the industry in 2008.

THE VISIONARIES 6th Annual 25 People To Watch

Each year since our inception more than six years ago, Global Gaming Business has focused on some of the most dynamic people in the gaming industry each January in our annual “25 People to Watch” feature. Our criteria are simple: that person will make an impact upon their industry, casino, organization or group in the next 12 months and beyond. The final choices are made by a coalition of our editorial advisory board and our editors. And while the process is less than scientific, it has
produced some remarkable candidates who have more than fulfilled our predictions. Some have changed the very core of how the industry operates and opened up business opportunities for all of us.

This year, we believe that our choices will once again be vindicated, and sooner, rather than later. While the subject of our cover story, Kazuo Okada, the chairman of Aruze Corp. and vice chairman of Wynn Resorts Ltd., is well-known to folks who follow the industry, we believe his company will play a huge role in the development of gaming in Asia. Some of our other choices are also well-known, but are now on the button to bring some exciting news to the gaming industry within the next year.

If you have someone you want to nominate for 2009’s People to Watch section, please email me at and we’ll put that person on our nominations list to be considered for inclusion in next January’s magazine. But for 2008, you’ve got your assignments. Watch what happens!
—Roger Gros

Living His Dream
Kazuo Okada
Chairman, Aruze Corp., and Vice Chairman, Wynn Resorts Ltd.

It’s not often that one man can play important roles in the gaming industry on the operators’ side and on the vendors’ side at the same time, but if Kazuo Okada can fulfill his dream to become one of the largest and most successful slot operators in the United States in the next few years, he will set that standard.

As the vice chairman of Wynn Resorts, Okada is already an important player as an operator. Okada owns at least as many shares of one of gaming’s most valuable companies as does its chairman, Steve Wynn. While he disclaims any role in developing and operating the company’s resorts, his role is clearly crucial to Steve Wynn.

But it’s his role as chairman of Japan-based Aruze Gaming that could define his rising reputation in the gaming industry. Aruze, which actually owns the stake in Wynn Resorts, is the leader in the pachinko-pachislot industry in Japan. An incredibly popular pastime in his homeland, Okada has been pushing for regulations that make the machines more exciting, with more of a gambling element.

“Regulatory changes make a big difference in the pachinko and pachislot market,” he says.

“Sometimes the changes will make the gambling element stronger. And sometimes it’s less. The more of a gamble it is, the more stimulating it is for the player.”
While Aruze is trying to vault to the top of the slot market, there aren’t many parallels on the technology side of the pachinko/pachislot machines and slots. But when it comes to producing the best machine, it turns out the two markets are similar.
In order for our games to be accepted by the players,” he says, “we have to give them what they want. Sometimes the ideas will be different and the final shape and theme may be different, but in the end, they’re all good products. That’s a similarity you find in all amusement machines that are accepted by the players.”

Technology has been an Aruze hallmark. But it doesn’t stand alone, says Okada.

“It’s not just technology; it’s a combination of technologies and ideas,” he says. “Ideas are just one component of a successful machine. You also have to design the mathematics to make the event something interesting and rewarding for the player.”

Like Wynn, Okada conducts his business in a state of perpetual motion, giving his full attention to even the smallest detail. In Wynn, he has found a soul mate.

“I immediately felt a kinship with Mr. Wynn,” he says. “He uses the same approach to business that I do. When he told me about his proposal for his company, I was impressed with him because he was putting everything he had into his company—his hard work, his experience, his money, his ideas; everything he has. Those are the things I bring to my work, so it was immediately apparent we’d make good partners. That’s why I believe in him.”

While the success of Wynn Macau is increasing, Okada believes the city is in the right place at the right time.

“So much is possible,” he says. “The population of mainland China is huge. The people are getting richer and richer. I believe the center of the world is focused on Asia now. It makes Macau very important in the gaming industry, and there’s so much that can be accomplished.”
Also in the middle of that growth is Japan. As a major player in Japanese gambling, Okada expects to be able to influence the debate in his home country.

“There is a tendency of the Japanese government to think inwardly rather than outwardly,” he explains. “Certainly, there has been some discussion about the legalization of gambling and casinos. We believe it is important to establish entertainment centers for our people. Sometimes the government only focuses on the dark side of gambling, but there isn’t very much opposition, so there is no doubt that it will some day be approved.

“The important thing now is to get someone who will lead the effort. If we get such a leader, it will move forward faster. There are so many Asian countries now getting into the gaming industry, it won’t be long until the Japanese government becomes obliged to offer casino gaming. We think it will take a three- to five-year term to be realized.”
While gambling is certainly a part of the casino resorts that Okada would like to see established in Japan, he thinks the concept goes much farther, and may require a cultural change for the Japanese workers and executives who are so focused on their careers.

“The most important thing is to have a space where people can enjoy their dream,” he says. “For example, when people go to a casino, they should have 24 hours to enjoy their dream: eat the best food, enjoy the best entertainment, and do things they can’t do anywhere else. That’s the dream space that every casino should include.”

As an operator, Okada will work with Wynn Resorts in most cases. But often, he will be approached about other opportunities. On the rumor that he was recently invited to a bid to develop a casino resort in Manila, he said, “There are many opportunities in Asian countries, and if there is an opportunity in a specific Asian country, certainly we have an interest.”
And if Wynn Resorts isn’t interested in a particular opportunity?

“It depends on the cases,” he says. “If something comes to us, we will take it to Wynn Resorts. If we meet together on the ideas, then we will do it with them. If not, we can discuss how we might move forward on it alone.”

Whether it’s as a partner with Wynn Resorts or alone as chairman of Aruze, Okada fully expects that both companies will be seen as trailblazers in Asia, and around the world.

“Asia will continue to grow quickly because there are many countries that have yet to enter the gaming industry,” he says. “In such a growth market, I expect Aruze to be a leader.”

The Boyd Boom
Keith Smith
President and CEO, Boyd Gaming

When Keith Smith was promoted to CEO of Boyd Gaming in 2007, it demonstrated a confidence that company chairman Bill Boyd has in him. After all, Smith has been a key part of some tremendous growth for the company, beginning with the opening of the Borgata in 2003, followed by the acquisition of Coast Casinos in 2004 and culminating with the construction of Echelon Place, scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2010.

But that’s not to ignore 2008, which will be a “transformative” year, according to Smith.

“This year,” he says, “we’ll open the Water Club, an 800-room all-suite boutique hotel adjacent to the Borgata, the first boutique hotel that will open in Atlantic City. The Borgata has been the market leader since we opened and the The Water Club will raise the bar that much higher.”

With Harrah’s adding a massive new tower, Trump Taj Mahal building more rooms and other casinos in Atlantic City also making improvements, the Water Club will add another level of luxury to the already-impressive offerings at the Borgata and is expected to open before the busy summer season in Atlantic City.

In Indiana, Smith is awaiting the debut later in the year of a new hotel adjacent to the company’s Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City. The property has been challenged recently by the opening of the Four Winds Casino Resort, a property owned by the Pokagon Tribe in Buffalo Creek, Michigan.

“The new hotel is going to be a more upscale product than you currently see in that market,” says Smith. “It’s going to allow us to compete with the new casino more effectively, and attract customers from more affluent regions farther away from Blue Chip.”
In Las Vegas, construction is well under way on Echelon Place, and Smith expects the foundation to be laid this year.

“We’re very excited about the possibilities that Echelon brings to our company,” he says. “It is clearly going to be one of the most dynamic projects in Las Vegas history.”
For investors, Smith is encouraging.

“We run our company for the long term,” he says. “We run a profitable business and we don’t grow just for the sake of growing. Our track record, with Coast, Borgata and Echelon, should demonstrate that we are very careful when we consider new business for the company and that we succeed as a result of that careful consideration.”
—Roger Gros

Perptual motion
Don H. Barden
Manager, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Majestic Star, LLC

It always is interesting to hear the story of a casino CEO who started in an entry-level position and worked his way up through the years and ranks to become the top kick.
It’s also interesting to hear about one achieving great success in other industries before turning sights on gaming, like Don Barden. He has run television and radio stations, developed real estate, and owned (in full or part) a record store, newspaper, software company and automotive plant in Africa.
And now, “my work is 99 percent focused on the expansion of our company in various gaming markets and with existing properties,” he says.

Such properties include Gary, Indiana and the Majestic Star casinos, what was a single riverboat casino he opened in 1996, later replacing with a larger vessel and acquiring the Trump Casino next door, together re-christened the Majestic Star II, and where he is currently mulling over “a new single-level vessel… a hotel, some new restaurants and those sorts of things.” His company also owns three Fitzgeralds Casinos acquired in 2001 in Tunica, Mississippi, Las Vegas, and Black Hawk, Colorado, where expansion is under way that will increase that facility’s size by 40 percent. And, most recently and prominently, Barden is making Pennsylvania history with a $450 million, 400,000-square-foot facility set to open around June 2009 on the North Shore riverfront in Pittsburgh. Lots going on, much more on the horizon, and nothing out of the ordinary for someone who always seems to ask, “What’s next?”

From day (or job) one, Barden was driven by an “entrepreneurial spirit,” always striving for something bigger. He is quick to cite those who helped him reach his goals, starting with his parents, who “taught me integrity.”

When he needed capital for an early cable venture after investing all his own money and coming up $300,000 short, he turned to business friends who guaranteed a loan in exchange for stock. And he cites those who were “inspirational from a distance,” including Motown founder Berry Gordy and businessmen A.G. Gaston and Carl Adams.

“Just knowing they existed and were successful motivated me and demonstrated that I, too, could be successful,” he says.

So with all of these projects percolating, is Don Barden still saying, “What’s next?” You bet.
“My goal is to continue to grow and improve my operations,” he says. “But at the same time keeping my eye open for new ones.”
— Jamie K. Mulholland

Networking Bally
Bruce Rowe
Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Development
Bally Technologies

When slot-maker Bally Technologies released its versatile “Alpha” video platform, the company also began preparing its customers, and the playing public, for the coming of networked, server-based slot floors.

Instead of focusing solely on the operator benefits of server-based gaming, Bally has zeroed in on the player with its “iVIEW” product, a small screen now mounted on thousands of slots across the industry through which value-added games and direct communication are filtered from casinos directly to their players.

Along with the technological advances have come the addition of many new faces at Bally—perhaps the most familiar being that of slot veteran Bruce Rowe.

Rowe, who joined Bally as senior vice president of strategy and business development, brought experience to the company that will prove invaluable in the coming year. As the longtime corporate vice president of slot operations for Harrah’s Entertainment, he was in the business of knowing what worked and what did not work for the world’s largest gaming operator.
Now, he will apply that experience to the often-vexing question of how server-based—he prefers the term “networked”—gaming can best earn money for his primary customers, the casinos.
“Many things being talked about as futuristic can be done today,” Rowe says, “and in a way that can adapt and prove its value.”

For casinos, Bally offers a peek at what Rowe calls the “dynamic revenue management” possible with networked systems. For example, games in a server-supported machine can be altered remotely today, using existing technology. “We’ve developed a game that has an imbedded scheduler,” he says. “You don’t have to have any system; just configure the changes at the game. If you want it to change to a different game on New Year’s Eve, you set it at the machine.”
For the player, aside from “System Games”—bonus games earned through player’s club points—Bally is dabbling with new ways to reward loyalty. For instance, new facial recognition software will enable the casino to actually recognize a loyal player when he sits down at a machine. “Proximity” software will be able to sense the location of employees when they are needed—servers to give a high-roller his cocktail, EMS-trained people to save a player’s life who has had a heart attack.

In the coming year, Rowe will be at the forefront of showing players and slot managers alike the benefits they will enjoy from the future makeup of the slot floor.
— Frank Legato

Lady of the Isle
Virginia McDowell
President and COO, Isle of Capri Casinos

If there’s a glass ceiling in the gaming industry, Virginia McDowell has broken through it several times. With nearly 30 years’ experience in the gaming industry, McDowell has labored in many disciplines of the industry. After spending 16 years in Atlantic City primarily at the Tropicana, where she served in marketing and operations capacities, she joined former Trop President Jim Perry at Argosy Gaming Company, where she began as a marketing officer, and ultimately served as SVP of operations. She left when the company they built was sold to Penn National Gaming in 2005.
When Perry was appointed CEO of the newly reorganized Trump Entertainment Resorts, McDowell joined him as senior VP and chief information officer, charged with building a technology platform to support future growth. Perry resigned in 2007, and McDowell and other senior staffers Perry brought on board were fired soon after. She surfaced only weeks later as the only woman president of a major U.S. gaming company—Isle of Capri.

Someone who clearly responds to a challenge, McDowell must get her arms around a company whose identity has been uncertain for quite some time.

“We’re in the process of completing a strategic review of our brands, existing operations and growth opportunities,” she says, “and are currently in the process of developing master plans in order to leverage the valuable land we own or control in Biloxi, Mississippi, and Pompano, Florida.”
The St. Louis-based Isle has varying operating profiles in several markets. Its flagship property in Biloxi was one of the first casinos to open after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, but a washed-out bridge made access difficult, to say the least. In Kansas City, another bridge closing and competition from planned Kansas casinos create uncertainty. Four Iowa casinos are holding their own; and the company is in the process of acquiring a minority interest that will give them control of the largest gaming operation in Colorado. McDowell plans to upgrade some of these facilities to compete with rivals.

“Most of our domestic operations have shown continuing margin improvement as we focus on cost-containment, and reallocating our marketing spend to attract and reward more profitable customers. As we develop our new brand portfolio, we will look to reposition legacy properties in some of our markets.”

One of the most challenging operations is a recently opened casino in the United Kingdom. “The Isle casino at Coventry” features 20 slots, 50 touchbet positions, and over 40 table games, including poker.

“We’re not introducing a new casino operation in the United Kingdom, we’re essentially introducing U.S.-style casino gaming,” she says. “Ninety-five percent of the population has never set foot in a casino, so we’re taking advantage of recent legislative changes which will enable us to market the facility in order to create awareness and drive trial.”

Few realize that Isle opened three new casinos in 2007, and for 2008, the goal is not only to rebuild the brand portfolio, but to also find the “sweet spot” in the gaming operations.

“Our focus is on increasing shareholder value by introducing a disciplined approach to spending,” McDowell explains, “on capital expenditures, operating expenses, customer acquisition and retention, and strategic development opportunities. We are a company in transition, but the changes we are making will provide the platform for future growth.”
—Roger Gros

The Public Trust
Kelly McDougald
Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation

One of the most extensive state-controlled gaming industries in the world is in Ontario, Canada. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, a crown corporation owned by the province, has developed a wide network of lottery retailers, charity casinos, First Nation (Indian) casinos, racinos, slot parlors and commercial casino resorts. The OLGC touches nearly everyone’s lives in the province and provides billions of dollars in revenue for the treasury.

After a six-month executive search, the agency named Kelly McDougald as CEO in October. She was tasked with restoring the integrity of the agency following a scandal uncovered in March that revealed lottery retailers and “insiders” had won a disproportionate number of jackpots.
McDougald, whose background includes senior management positions with Bell Canada and Novatel, says her job was made easier by a four-point mission statement left by her predecessors.

“If I follow this roadmap,” she says, “we’ll be able to make this work.

“First, return dividends. That’s the main thing, everyone needs to make money.

“Second, create and maintain world-class gaming experiences, and I think we have done that.

“Third, be a great partner. We operate in many diverse communities and are truly integral parts of those communities.

“And fourth, be the guardian of the public trust. This includes things like the integrity of the games, the care and attention given to the problem gambling issue. We have to be totally transparent.”
While McDougald is concerned about a lack of growth in the casinos along the U.S. border, she says gaming is healthy and growing in most other parts of the province. She says the agency is looking for regions where it can encourage incremental growth of the businesses.

“We’re looking at all regions of the province to see where we can grow our products without impacting any other market,” she says.

McDougald is most excited about the transition from Casino Windsor to Caesars Windsor, scheduled for early 2008.

“This is the most exciting gaming event in the province since the opening of Niagara Fallsview several years ago,” she says. “We’re adding a spectacular convention center, a 5,000-seat entertainment complex, a hotel tower and other things that will truly make the experience at Windsor a special one.”

And she’s always keeping an eye on the problem gambling area, which is important to her.

“We’re developing some exciting programs that will use biometric data to identify people who have self-excluded so we can prevent any more damage,” she said. “Casinos are a fun and stimulating form of entertainment but we don’t want people harmed because of it.”
—Roger Gros

Hitting the Jackpot
Marlin Torguson
President, Torguson Gaming Group

When Marlin Torguson formed a group in 1983 to fund, build and manage Jackpot Junction Casino, owned by the Lower Sioux tribe in Morton, Minnesota, he thought he knew everything about gaming. After all, the hunger for gaming was great and all that was required was to build the facility and open the doors. He later opened Goldiggers Hotel and Casino in Deadwood, South Dakota. But it wasn’t until he became a pioneer in riverboat gaming with Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis on the Mississippi Gulf Coast did he really hit his stride. The brand became a mainstay in Mississippi and Louisiana, garnering huge profits wherever it opened.

But if you listen to him today, he didn’t know anything until he sold his Casino Magic company to Pinnacle Entertainment in 1997.

“I didn’t really understand the importance of the non-gaming side of things until I sold Casino Magic and joined the board of Pinnacle,” he said. “I learned so much from (Pinnacle Entertainment Chairman) Dan Lee. I thought he was way overspending when he built L’Auberge in Las Charles, Louisiana. Of course, it quickly became the market leader and now I understand why the things outside the casino are so important.”

Torguson is putting his newfound knowledge to the test in Biloxi as he prepares for the groundbreaking of Bacaran Bay, a multi-use development that includes a 67,000-square-foot casino, an all-suite hotel, condos, retail, eight restaurants, bowling, an entertainment complex and almost 75,000 square feet of meeting space.

“I expect that many of the casinos in Biloxi will mirror the Las Vegas model, where more than 50 percent of revenues come from non-gaming sources,” says Torguson.

The long road to the groundbreaking began before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Torguson had designed the casino first to be floating like the Beau Rivage casino barge; later to be built on pilings, when that option was approved; and finally as a land-based casino after the regulatory changes were implemented following the storm.

Since Katrina completely reshaped the gaming industry on the Coast, Torguson’s property has become that much more attractive. Located on the road that runs between the Beau Rivage and the Imperial Palace, the two market leaders today, Bacaran Bay also controls much of the land in that corridor where at least two more casinos would be located.
“We’re in a good position when Biloxi really starts booming,” he says.
—Roger Gros

Kathleen McLaughlin-Harris
Managing Director, Global Slot Marketing and Operations, Las Vegas Sands Corporation

Kathleen McLaughlin-Harris is of a rare breed in the slot industry—an executive with extensive experience on both the supplier and operational sides of the business.

The fact she is married to a slot pioneer—Gary Harris is credited with perfecting the virtual-reel stepper slot—is a perfect fit with her entire career. After several years as a marketing executive at WMS Gaming, Harris joined Harrah’s Entertainment as corporate director of slot operations, working with Bruce Rowe.

In what would become a career trend for Harris, the operator created a new position to fit her particular skill set—she was made corporate vide president of slot research and development, a position in which she worked with slot manufacturers to develop new games that would be launched at Harrah’s properties on an exclusive basis.

She eventually was made corporate vice president of strategic sourcing at Harrah’s, a position she held until last April, when Las Vegas Sands Executive VP Brad Stone and Senior VP Kevin Kelley decided to take a new look at the slot strategy of their rapidly growing company.

Repeating history, Harris took on a position designed specifically for her—managing director of global slot marketing and operations for Las Vegas Sands Corporation.

In the next few years, Harris will determine how to best maximize profits on the slot floor in markets as divergent as Las Vegas, Pennsylvania and Macau, in new and existing properties.

In Las Vegas, the Palazzo’s grand opening this month will add thousands of games for the operator’s Las Vegas Strip customers already accustomed to continuing expansions at the Venetian. In Pennsylvania, a variety of slots will serve a new market with a completely new style of property, as the company transforms a shuttered steel mill in Bethlehem into Sands BethWorks, a combination resort casino and industrial museum.

The biggest challenge, though, may lie in the company’s two Macau properties, Sands Macao and the new Venetian Macao, as well as several other Asia properties opening there and in Singapore. In Southeast Asia, the challenge is to create successful slot floors in a traditional table-game market.

In all, it’s a challenge Harris relishes.

“If you love gaming and love everything about slots, Macau is where everything is happening,” she says. “Mr. (Sheldon) Adelson put a vision out there, and Brad Stone is phenomenal at making it happen. There is some serious talent in this company, and I have the pleasure of working with all of these talented folks.”

Harris, in fact, deflects praise to the people at Las Vegas Sands Corporation at every turn. As far as slots for the corporation in the foreseeable future, though, the challenge will belong to Harris. It should be a fun ride.
— Frank Legato

Wearing Different Hats
Justin Quis Quis
Chairman, San Pasqual Gaming Commission

Justin Quis Quis offers a diverse and complete gaming package. As an auditor, financial advisor, negotiator, commissioner and tribal member, this regulator affects the industry from several sides.

The San Diego, California, native heads the
San Pascual Gaming Commission. It regulates interests for the San Pascual Band of Mission Indians, who operate a casino outside of San Diego. Quis Quis also serves the collective interest of all California tribes. He helps lead the task force enabling them to negotiate their future with the state government.

This is the most crucial period in the history
of California tribal gaming. Whopping revenues make Indian gaming—like all gaming—a target for cash-starved state governments. Indian gaming
revenues in California are expected to exceed $9 billion over the next two decades, prompting fierce turf battles.

Tribal outfits—citing the Colorado Indian River Tribe’s court victory over the NIGC—believe they should police themselves. All California tribal gaming facilities, for example, have their own commission.

The states, who now view profits larger than envisioned during the original compacts, want more influence and revenue.

It may be easiest for the state and tribal nations to hammer out a deal, or amend their compacts, rather than fight. Before that happens, however, all interested parties must survive a February referendum seeking to invalidate an agreement between Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and four Southern California tribes.

“Gaming is a hot topic here right now,” Quis Quis says. “A lot of people say we feel bad for the Indians, but maybe they are getting too greedy. Others say “forget about that, let them go for it.’

“We’re negotiating in good faith. We have for years abided by and exceeded minimal internal
control standards. We don’t need anybody to do that for us. There has never been a casino shut down for lack of ethics. As tribal members, we regulate for a reason. It’s for our families. We have one hell of a vested interest in running this properly.”

Quis Quis says the San Pascual tribe has been a good community neighbor. It has contributed several million dollars to improve the roads and donated to numerous charities. Within a 10-mile radius, tribal gaming has employed about 7,000 tax-paying employees.

Quis Quis also brings a national perspective into his efforts. His “real” job involves auditing for a company that serves several tribes in the Midwest.
—Dave Bontempo

Latin Power Trio
Pablo Zuppi, Diego Fiz and Sergio Maglio
Owners and Directors,

More than five years ago, three young Argentines realized that there was not much information available about the gaming industry in Latin America on a daily basis. Thus formed the basis for Diego Fiz, Sergio Maglio and Pablo Zuppi have tapped the mother lode of the online media, providing information on gaming in both English and Spanish, in areas far beyond Latin America.

Maglio says success came at first because the site was unique.

“In Latin America there was no other site like Yogonet when we began with the project,” he says.

But like most journalism, knowledge won out.

“We always try to work closely with our sources in order to have the best possible information online,” he says. “The internet gives us the opportunity to reach a wide range of readers in almost real time and helped us to develop a solid base of readers who found good and updated information, free of charge, about different topics of the gaming industry.”

The group travels together or individually to almost every major trade show or conference, giving them access to many media sources. But still, despite their international coverage, readers look to them for accurate information on the burgeoning Latin American market.

“It seems that it will keep on growing,” says Maglio about the region. “During the last few years, several countries decided to give the gaming industry more space in terms of new casino
openings, tender process and regulatory reform. Argentina, Chile and Colombia have solid markets with a good technological base and a professional way of doing business. We still have to see what will happen with Brazil, a huge market that, sometime in the future, will have a legal framework that will generate one of the most important gaming markets not only in South America, but worldwide. Mexico is also an important potential market that has been growing during the last few years.”

For Yogonet, Maglio says development of off-line products will help fuel the growth.

“We always work to improve our website and the other company’s developments like ey! Encuentro Yogonet (an international conference organized with SAGSE exhibition in Buenos Aires) and Directorio Yogonet (the “yellow pages” of the Latin American gaming industry).

“We have the same goal we had when we began five years ago: become the online information source of the gaming industry worldwide. And we still work to achieve it.”
—Roger Gros

Money Man
Dan D’Arrigo
Executive Vice President & CFO, MGM Mirage

For Dan D’Arrigo, the timing couldn’t be better to step into the shoes of MGM Mirage President Jim Murren. As CFO, Murren gained the confidence of Wall Street over the years and sold the company as a pure gaming play. D’Arrigo now has the responsibility to sell the diversified revenue streams that will begin flowing now that MGM Mirage has partnered with several non-gaming entities, including Dubai World and Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. Each of these joint ventures will include non-gaming resorts and hotels, with one getting under way soon in Dubai, Abu Dhabi.

“This development will be very similar to any mixed-use project we’d do in any other market, minus the gaming,” he says. “There’s a thirst for entertainment in these regions, and we’ll provide it.”

D’Arrigo’s challenge will be to convince Wall Street that MGM Mirage will become a diverse player in the entertainment industry, not just gaming.

“We’ve taken great care to understand how you can communicate to Wall Street,” he says. “It’s changed on both sides, so we follow the rules very closely. Disclosure needs to be widespread publicly, and I feel I have a pretty good relationship with the folks on Wall Street.”

Partnerships are a big part of the MGM Mirage business model. From New York-New York and the Borgata, to CityCenter and the new Kerzner development on the north Las Vegas Strip, D’Arrigo compares them to marriages.

“There’s a little big of give and take on both sides,” he says. “We have several reasons for entering into partnerships. Quite frankly, we don’t know it all, so we rely on our partners to bring in some expertise—or even the time—that we may not have. In the Kerzner partnership (with Dubai World), we had that land and probably wouldn’t get to it on our own for five to seven years. By creating this partnership, we can be part of a very exciting development that will open within that time frame. So it works for all the partners involved.”

One partnership bore fruit in December when MGM Mirage Macau opened, in partnership with Pansy Ho, daughter of Macau gaming magnate Stanley Ho. D’Ariggo says Pansy brought a lot to the table.

“It’s been a while since we were back on the international front,” he says. “It’s an exciting project and the market is very dynamic. We’ll be able to showcase our management talent, our brands and most of all our service standards.

“Pansy Ho has been helping us get to know the cultural aspects, and that’s been a great asset to have in that marketplace.”

In Nevada, MGM Mirage’s home turf, D’Ariggo warns that current moves to increase the gaming tax could have serious consequences.

“Investors looking to come into Nevada will have a different view of the state, which has always been favorable,” he says. “Companies that operate here will be revisiting how they re-invest their capital. Liquidity in terms of investing in these projects will change, and none of those things are good for this industry or this state.”
—Roger Gros

Poker Queen Maker
Lisa Tenner
President, Tenner & Associates

Lisa Tenner has launched what is at least her third career. Early success as a ballerina gave way to even more successful stints in the entertainment and food-and-beverage industries.

Now, Tenner has made her mark as a poker impresario for women players. Tenner has organized the “Queen of Hearts” poker tournament, held in conjunction with the World Series of Poker.

Two years ago, she spearheaded a charitable effort that created the Queen of Hearts poker team led by actress and professional poker player Jennifer Tilly. Joined by 21 other pro players (six of whom hold WSOP championship bracelets), Tenner raised thousands of dollars for the American Heart Association and the Nevada Cancer Institute. Last year, actress Mimi Rogers joined the team, and for 2008 Tenner will soon announce another high-profile celebrity “captain.”

“There is a great demand to be a part of this team,” she says. “I get calls every day from women professionals who want to participate.”

It’s a rapidly growing area of the poker market, as well.

“While almost every event at the 2007 WSOP had flat or slightly declining numbers, the Queen of Hearts event grew by 20 percent.”

For the first time, Tenner is asking the pros to donate at least $5,000 to these charities, as well as designate a percentage of any winnings to the worthy causes.

“They are all very committed to giving back the community,” Tenner says, “and they enthusiastically support this effort.”

Tenner believes it’s only a matter of time before the WSOP sees a woman champion at the main event, the $10,000 no-limit Texas hold ‘em game.

“The Queen of Hearts event has made people realize that women possess the same qualities in everyday life that make great male poker champions,” she says. “We have the intelligence, the instincts and the skill, all of which we put to work in our lives, our relationships and in the raising of our children.”

Tenner also runs her own company, the Las Vegas-based Tenner & Associates, which specializes in the power of branding and taking advantage of special events. Her clients have included the Hard Rock Hotel, the World Poker Conference, Playboy’s Women of Poker, the Cosmopolitan Casino Resort and many others.

“I’ve done special events my entire life,” she says. “You can have hundreds or thousands of people at any event and still not take full advantage of them. We can show you how the event can resonate with your team and your customers.”
—Roger Gros

Junket King
Lam Yin Lok
Chairman, Jimei Group

Although most of the world’s major gaming companies are active in Macau, they sometimes take a back seat to the city’s junket reps who are responsible for bringing in the big players. But even in this field, there are a few who stand out from the competition.

Lam Yin Lok, also known as “Jack,” heads up the Jimei Group, a Hong Kong-based conglomerate which has various tourism and gaming businesses in Asia. It operates casinos, resort estates, hotels, spas, clubs, restaurants and a cruise ship throughout the Asia Pacific region.

Lam is a native of Guangdong, China, born to a farming family in Mao Ming. Because of his poor and destitute upbringing, Lam decided to go to Hong Kong at the age of 18 in 1979. He was working in his uncle’s factory as bookkeeper and earned only a thousand Hong Kong dollars a month, sending most of his salary back home to help his family.

Lam’s uncle was a regular player in Macau, and the young man usually accompanied him there, subsequently building up social connections of his own. Lam learned the mysterious mechanism of “dead chip rolling” for players in the casinos, and decided to work in a casino in Macau as a “tab-ma-chai” (sub-agent). It was a low position that enabled him to learn customer service techniques.

He began as a small junket representative in Macau in 1981. Because of Lam’s diligence and good sense of marketing, he developed an extensive client base over the years and built a reputation as a leader in the junket gaming industry.

Today, Lam operates not only in SJM’s Lisboa Macau, but also in Wynn Macau, Sands Macao, Venetian Macao and Grand Lisboa with a combined 64 gaming tables. He is by far the largest junket operator for Las Vegas Sands casinos and Wynn Macau. Although it can’t be quantified, Lam is probably the largest junket operator in Macau and even in Asia today.

The Jimei Group also operates a tourism ship, the M.V. Jimei, with 300 cabins and 20 gaming tables. The company also has interests in several Philippine casinos and operates junkets in South Korea as well.

Due to Lam’s diverse business achievements and the many philanthropic activities he has undertaken in China, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Macau, he was awarded the “2007 World Outstanding Chinese Award” in Hong Kong recently. Additionally, he was a recipient of Distinguished University Medal of Honor in Philippines and was officially adopted as “Son of Laoag City” in 2003.

In recognition to Lam’s tourism contributions, the Tourism & Cultural Affairs Office of Clark, Philippines awarded him the Certificate of Recognition; and the Department of Tourism Ilocos Region awarded him the Plaque of Appreciation for his contribution of promoting Philippines tourism.
—Patrick Roberts

Home Again
Rosalind Krause
General Manager, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort

For Rosalind Krause, 2008 will be a landmark year in more ways than one.

Personally, Krause will celebrate 30 years in the casino industry. Professionally, the general manager of Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City will see the opening and completion of the casino’s new 800-room tower.

Krause, known for her amiable personality as much as her great business sense, started as a cocktail server at Resorts in Atlantic City, working while putting herself through school, eventually moving through the ranks at different casinos and later moving to Las Vegas to serve as a senior vice president of casino services for Caesars Palace and assistant general manager for Paris.

But she couldn’t resist returning to Atlantic City, which she did in 2005.

“It’s such a dynamic industry,” said the 47-year-old Krause, who was born and raised in Atlantic City. “My roots are here, and I love Atlantic City. It’s very rewarding to be able to run a property that is full of very qualified people in an organization with such an abundance of talent.”

As big as 2008 will be, 2007 was anything but shabby. The casino opened Spice Road, a promenade that features new restaurants and retail outlets, and debuted renovated penthouse suites that rank among the best in the city.

In December, the Taj also opened its new $5 million baccarat and high-end gaming pit. Sixty percent of the casino floor was renovated—the other 40 will be completed in 2008—and $11 million has been invested in new slots over the last two years.

In addition to the new $255 million tower, which is expected to open 380 rooms late summer with more following monthly, plus more casino floor renovations, the Taj will also announce a branded restaurant that will open in the former Bombay Café location in 2008.

“2008 should be an amazing year for us,” Krause said. “The new rooms will help increase our convention business while accommodating a segment of the casino market that we haven’t been able to with just 1,250 rooms. There are so many customers who want to stay here, but couldn’t. Now they can. We also believe that our loyalty program with the Trump One Card will really pay off in 2008. Our cross-property play has doubled, and we’re excited about where that will take us.”
—Joseph Harrison

The Machine as Art
Milo Borissov
President and CEO, Casino Technology

Milo Borissov has always been interested in mathematics and the technical sciences, so it is no surprise to find he has a master’s degree in engineering. But Casino Technology is a company that designs and creates games and the machines they run on, and to be as successful as they have been in this field requires something more than a scientific mind. Borissov’s lifelong love of music—he is a talented jazz pianist—helps give him an artistic edge.

“My interest in gaming was provoked by the exciting synergy of math, technology and engineering innovations with various forms of the art,” says Borissov. “When I first got involved with video games, about 20 years ago, I immediately felt challenged to explore what makes a product that incorporates a mix of all those elements successful, and at the same time is able to entertain and bring the players back again.”

The company Borissov founded in 1999 reflects his dualistic approach to game creation. The graphic design team consists of eight groups of talented artists. The R&D team benefits from the 30 percent of annual income the company pours back into research and development. The product development team relies heavily on the psychological profile and tastes of the target audience. And the teams charged with quality assurance, quality control and compliance give their full attention to all the necessary details.

Casino Technology employs over 1,500 people across its group of companies. The head office in Sofia, Bulgaria coordinates international activities through a network of more than 18 offices worldwide. Over 20 different languages are spoken by staff. Through sales channels situated all over the world, the company’s products are available and operating in more than 50 countries, and over 50,000 units have been installed in multiple international casino operations.

Borissov has been presented multiple awards for his contributions to development of the gaming industry and holds many patents for his inventions. He is a charter member the Bulgarian Trade Association of Manufacturers and Organizers in the Gaming Industry.

“Pioneering the creation of some of the most advanced gaming concepts and products, Casino Technology as a company has always been an originator of many initiatives related to development of the gaming sector in our region,” says Borissov. “We, as a member of BTAMOGI, have been constantly working in respect of assisting the regulators in the industry, promoting worldwide quality standards, and introducing the advantages of responsible gaming.”
– Rich Geller

Supply Side in Asia
Steven Lim
Sales & Marketing Director, RGB

Getting the goods to market has been a main staple of business since time immemorial. In the gaming industry, manufacturers often use distributors to get that task accomplished.

In Asia, the one distributor that has demonstrated an ability to provide gaming goods in a timely and efficient manner has been RGB.

Steven Lim is one of the founders of RGB’s parent company, Dreamgate Corporation Berhad. Since its listing on the Malaysian Stock Exchange in 2003, DCB has experienced tremendous growth, recording a turnover of Ringgit Malaysia (RM)81 million in 2003, and 266 percent in 2006 to RM215 million.

“As an Asian company,” says Lim, “RGB understands the Asian market and cultures and is able to leverage on this expertise to spearhead its growth.

“RGB is also actively involved in the supply of gaming equipment to various gaming establishments under concession in various countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines and has seen its business growing from strength to strength.”

Lim is deeply involved in gaming in the region, and is a member of the planning committee of PAGCOR, the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation incorporated to regulate amusement and gaming activities in the Philippines.

A graduate of Brock University, Canada, Lim has more than 20 years of experience in the gaming and amusement machine industry. He also is an ardent footballer and sits on the management committees of a number of social and membership clubs in Malaysia.

With such rapid growth, Lim believes his company is poised to become one of the major movers of gaming in Asia.

“RGB’s growth will be further spurred with the implementation of its plan to become a leading integrated gaming solutions specialist with the establishment of integrated service units combining sales, technical services, spare parts and warehousing facilities within major locations in Asia,” he says. “These integrated facilities are an affirmation of RGB’s commitment to providing the Asian gaming industry with the best available after sales and technical services.”
—Roger Gros

Class Act
Kunal Mishra
Vice President, Product Management and Marketing,
Cadillac Jack

Georgia-based Cadillac Jack has long been one of the leading suppliers of electronic bingo slot machines and systems for the Class II Indian gaming market.

During the past few years, though, CEO Mike Macke, who formed Cadillac Jack in 1995, began to move his company toward traditional Class III markets, beginning with a successful entry into the Oklahoma market.

Macke has since further prepared Cadillac Jack for Class III by building up his executive staff with seasoned veterans of Class III slot suppliers. Several members of the executive staff now in place are veterans of the Class III market, and the company is now marketing its products beyond Oklahoma to many of the compacted jurisdictions, while building its Class III product base.

Right in the middle of this push into Class III is Kunal Mishra, who joined the company in 2006 as vice president of product management and marketing. Mishra was with Bally Technologies for several years, and subsequently with Shuffle Master during the years it produced Class III slots before returning to Bally in 2006.

Mishra’s Class III experience covers both product development and marketing, which makes him an ideal executive to help lead Cadillac Jack to success in new markets.

“We are now getting our licenses in all the Class III jurisdictions and penetrating these markets with niche products,” Mishra says. “Our core strengths are in video slot product and our wide-area progressive product.”

That wide-area progressive, called Cadillac Cash, has led Cadillac Jack’s success in Oklahoma and other Class III markets. Meanwhile, Mishra has been in the thick of the effort to merge the company’s game content into applications for both Class II and Class III. “Class II technology was in many ways ahead of Class III technology,” he says. “The challenge I had in retooling the product line was to bring the Class III playability features into Class II. When these two technologies met, we immediately saw the reaction of the customers to be positive, in that they were seeing an advanced technological system combined with the playability features formerly reserved for the four or five big Class III manufacturers.”

Mishra says Cadillac Jack’s success has been in merging the best of the two classes, particularly in its successful Class II wide-area progressive system. “That Class II wide-area space was under-served, so we have seen a tremendous amount of success in both markets,” Mishra says.

Going forward, he says the company will continue to play on its strongest points—one of which is an uncanny ability to tailor new games to specific markets and locations.
“We’re never done expanding,” Mishra says. “We’re in constant growth mode, and right now we feel we have the ideal blend of Class II technology experiences and Class III playability to offer products for all of our customers to increase the profitability of their organizations.”
—Frank Legato

That’s the Ticket
Eric Meyerhofer
CEO, FutureLogic

It took a while for the ticket-in/ ticket-out systems to gain acceptance with slot players, but once it did, the TITO peripherals became items very much in demand. One company that hit the jackpot was FutureLogic, which gained the business of the largest slot company, IGT. With such a large client, however, FutureLogic was on the spot to produce a reliable printer with features that make it almost seamless to the operator.

Eric Meyerhofer, the CEO of FutureLogic, explains how that challenge was met.

“Our company was founded in 1983 specializing in thermal printer solutions,” Meyerhofer says.

“When we were awarded the IGT contract after the RFP in 1999, it was very exciting and a high point for our company.”

Acceptance of the tickets wasn’t immediate. In fact, it took several years before customers got comfortable with them. Even Meyerhofer wasn’t sure of where it was going.

“We had to scratch our heads and wonder how the customers were going to accept the absence of the coin drop,” he says.

Nowadays, TITO is the main system in most slot departments. While there is some progress being made in “smart card” technology, where all the information is stored on a credit-card sized card, it’s not likely slot customers would accept another change quite so soon.

“These things have been around for years,” says Meyerhofer. “The French and South African markets have used them for quite some time. And quite frankly, some of these operators are investigating tickets now. When the results are stored on a card, it’s still in the virtual world. When you get a ticket, it’s like having cash in hand.”

Tickets also avoid any questions of how much the player thinks he’s won.

“We tend to be forgetful and sometimes don’t remember how much we’ve won,” he says. “With tickets, all that confusion is cleared up.”

Another advantage of a printed ticket is the ability to do couponing on the tickets. Catalina Marketing, the experts in behavioral marketing in retail operations, launched a program that offered coupons on cards and in printed form, with better results for the print version.

“While you can do couponing on smart cards,” says Meyerhofer, “people still prefer the paper coupons, far and away. That’s why I think in gaming, the printed ticket will be around for years.”

FutureLogic is now focusing on the international expansion of the gaming industry, recently setting up an office in Macau. It’s another effort to increase visibility in the industry.

“We have offices in London and South Africa, as well,” says Meyerhofer. “We will follow the trends to make sure we’re in every market to serve our loyal customers.”
—Roger Gros

Server-Based Trailblazer
Dario Zutel
Chairman and CEO, Win Systems International

The gaming industry’s coming move into server-based, networked gaming systems will be marked by the efforts of many well-known slot manufacturers, to be sure. However, the technology will be driven by pioneers who have already worked out many of the problems.

Dario Zutel is one such pioneer. Along with Ines Kreplak, Zutel founded New York-based Win Systems International in 1996 to apply technology from a wide-area network he had helped create for a horse-race wagering system in Spain to new markets in the lottery and casino business.

In the ensuing years, Win introduced its lottery system in Spain, and enhanced it with projects in Latin America.

“The company made excellent decisions regarding the architecture of the system,” Zutel says. “It was an early innovator of the VLT market, recognizing the fundamental similarities in PC-based gaming machines, multi-player prizes and the benefits of central game downloading and distribution.

“The founders understood early on that the gaming market would similarly evolve to understand the benefits of the wide-area network concept, and implement the benefits of server-based systems.”

Win has transplanted its lottery technology to the server-based gaming platform it offers today—“a logical extension of more than a decade of ongoing development in the lottery market,” he says.

Win Systems already is deploying its first server-based gaming systems. Over the next few years, Zutel sees partnerships with U.S. suppliers as a definite possibility.

“We are under few illusions that we will, by ourselves, be able to significantly influence the U.S. gaming industry’s move toward server-based systems,” Zutel says. “We expect this migration to occur slowly and deliberately. The evolution to server-based gaming will be driven by forward-thinking casino operators and machine manufacturers.

“We believe foreign and emerging market operators will be the earlier adopters of server-based gaming systems. In fact, we are currently deploying our first two server-based gaming systems, one in Eastern Europe and one in Latin America. We believe the success of these systems and the endorsement of the operators will provide momentum to the move toward server-based gaming in the U.S.”

He says a key ability of server-based systems is the potential for improved results with fewer physical machines.

“Therefore, not everyone in the market is pushing for the adoption of this technology,” he says. “Having said that, we strongly believe that the benefits of the enhanced player experience that this technology provides, along with the myriad of savings to the operators, will eventually be demanded by operators and players alike.”
—Frank Legato

Back to Basics
Jennifer Standing Bear
Marketing Director, Million Dollar Elm Casino, Oklahoma

As a public relations expert working in the Embassy of the Chickasaw Nation in Washington, D.C., Jennifer Standing Bear got to witness a complex global economy, of which her Native American h

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