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Watching the Detectives

Qidan (Kiki) Guo, Vice President, Gaming Operations, Interblock Gaming

Watching the Detectives

Let’s face it. A career working in analytics appeals to certain mindsets. But for Qidan (Kiki) Guo, the seed was planted in her childhood. She loved puzzles and old-school detective movies and television series. Sherlock Holmes and Poirot.

“Analytics is in some way playing detective and finding patterns,” says Guo, a native of Shenzhen, China, who serves as vice president of gaming operations for Interblock Gaming in Las Vegas. “I have always loved to ask many questions to get to the bottom of things and use logic plus numbers to answer those questions. That makes analytics the perfect role for me.”

In her current role, Guo and her team analyze games around the world, see what works really well for one region only to have it fail in another. “For example, it is a completely different strategy setting up games for Las Vegas versus New York versus Florida,” she says. “Therefore, we A-B test all possible combinations and roll out the strategy with the optimal settings, then fine tune them as we go.”

Guo took a somewhat roundabout pathway to a career in casino analytics. She got her bachelor’s degree in business from Furman University, then returned to China to work in sales in the luxury hotel design industry. She returned to Las Vegas to earn a dual MBA and MS in hospitality at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

During the MBA program, Guo met her future husband, Nick Gorman, who worked—and still does—in casino analytics. He has a job at MGM, analyzing gaming. “Watching him work made me really jealous because the things he worked on were so intriguing,” Guo says. “That’s why I applied to be an analyst at the Venetian after I graduated.”

Covid-19 struck in Guo’s early years at the Venetian. Two things stood out: Her group worked from home, putting in more hours than they did in the office. And all employees continued to receive paychecks, courtesy of owner Sheldon Adelson.

“My team and I migrated our database from SAS to SQL,” she says. “We also worked on new algorithms for player valuation, and were actively planning for player demand and open hours so that we would be fully prepared when casinos were allowed to reopen.”

Guo has benefited from a handful of mentors who taught her not only the business skills but also how to be a better person. “These lessons can be applied to everything, not just gaming, not just analytics,” she says. “It is all about doing the right thing, even though it usually means the harder way.”

For Guo, the future remains in the detailed nuances of analytics. “I see myself progressing where analytics is most needed and where interesting questions need to be answered. My goal is to continuously take on the hardest challenges.”

Bill Sokolic is a veteran journalist who has covered gaming and tourism for more than 25 years as a staff writer and freelancer with various publications and wire services. He's also written stories for news, entertainment, features, and business. He co-authored Atlantic City Revisited, a pictorial history of the resort.

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