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Volunteering for Success

Juliann Barreto, Chief Operating Officer, Spectrum Gaming Group

Volunteering for Success

Juliann Barreto now sits squarely at the center of the gaming industry. As chief operating officer of Spectrum Gaming Group, she is at the intersection of emerging gaming markets, new technologies, probity, and operations, seeing the industry through a single lens.

Her background is diverse, both inside and outside of gaming, bringing financial, operational and business development acumen to Spectrum. Among other leadership roles in the gaming industry, Barreto also acts on behalf of Spectrum as a critical member of the executive director team for the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States, the high-profile legislative educational network for gaming.

Barreto joined Spectrum in 2018, with more than a decade of experience in finance, accounting, and forensic financial investigation. Immediately prior to joining, she was with NFC Worldwide Solutions, a major due diligence, compliance, and risk consultancy agency. There she honed her professional skills in the complex relationships between economics, integrity, and forensic accounting, which would underlie much of the work Spectrum is involved in today.

In the early 2000s at Ernst & Young (E&Y), Barreto advised private equity firms involved in gaming M&A activity, focusing on background investigations and the suitability of casino license applicants. Barreto makes note that Kelly Gass—then a senior manager at E&Y and now a prominent gaming industry investment banker—was a valued mentor during her early career in accounting and audit. At E&Y, Barreto developed lasting professional relationships with major investment and gaming firms alike.

Following Barreto’s time at E&Y, she took a break from gaming and went to Asia—not to travel for fun, but to volunteer, where she also met and decided to work alongside the Cambodian Children’s Fund, founded by Scott Neeson, former president of 20th Century Fox. She was so moved by the desperation of Cambodia’s children that she ultimately created a nonprofit to provide educational scholarships for a school in Siem Reap through funds raised in the United States. Barreto, still in touch with the graduates, will return with her twin daughters and husband this summer.

But Barreto’s innovative spirit does not stop with philanthropy. She is also the consummate entrepreneur. In the F&B space, she has founded multiple restaurant and food provision concepts. Her interest in this business area led her to take a job as the chief financial officer for Aoki Restaurant Group, where she oversaw finance, real estate investment and business development. Her interest in business development percolated and is now visible in her overall approach to managing her career.

Barreto’s educational path included a master’s degree in accounting and financial planning from the University of Miami, and a degree in executive education and business from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. But Barreto has continued to build her repertoire of lively pursuals. She has founded restaurants, bought and sold boutique provisions and food production companies, and brewed barrels upon barrels of kombucha (before it was popular!).

As an industry leader, Barreto’s view of the future of gaming should be telling, centered around the ongoing importance of not just regulation, but holistic investigation across the many verticals that touch gaming. And with the vast expansion of gaming and the arrival of digital and virtual platforms, the technologies protecting consumers from bad actors in crypto, affiliate or black financial networks is more important than ever.

Her long-term vision is summed up best by her stating, “It is time for a global conversation, as our industry is now just that. A collaborative consortium of experts, vendors, regulators and lawmakers is required to ensure that this industry continues to grow and thrive responsibly.”

Michael Soll is president of the Innovation Group, the industry's premier consulting and advisory firm. One of gaming and hospitality's most recognizable brand specialists, Soll's experience includes senior-level management positions with such organizations as Caesars Entertainment, Hard Rock Café International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. He can be reached at the Innovation Group's Orlando office at 407-702-6648 or at msoll@theinnovationgroup.com.