Inaugural ‘Black Executives on the Rise’ highlights leaders in gaming

  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports

They have a wide range of backgrounds and interests and are among the emerging leaders in the gaming industry. But most of all, they love the challenges and the opportunities to create their own paths.

“It’s an industry that encourages innovation, collaboration, and continuously pushes the boundaries of technology,” says Felicia Gassen, Sightline Payments’ Chief Administrative Officer and Chief of Staff, and an honoree of CDC Gaming Reports’ inaugural ‘Black Executives on the Rise in Gaming’.

Selected by Alex Dixon, the CEO of DRA in Dubuque, Iowa, and Anika Howard, CEO and President of Wondr Nation, in conjunction with the advocacy group African Americans in Gaming, the feature honors new leaders and voices who are making a difference in their communities.

“Innovation and creativity in technology is a competitive advantage that knows no bounds. It takes the type of leadership embodied in this extraordinary group of executives to highlight what happens when you look past race, ethnicity, background, and circumstances and enable excellence,” says Howard of the recipients. “Doing so creates long-lasting value for stakeholders and provides an example of what’s possible, both inside and outside of our industry. I hope it encourages individuals of all backgrounds to strive for excellence in their careers and provides an example of what is possible.”

“New York, Dallas, Houston, Charlotte, Los Angeles and Richmond all have great growth potential for the gaming industry and all have African American mayors,” Dixon says. “This list is a great representation of the C-suite leaders driving revenue and responsibly opening new markets across North America.”

Dixon notes that five of six mayors of cities that host new casinos in Virginia are Black. Worldpay Gaming Solutions President Joe Watkins, another honoree, says that building casinos in “otherwise disenfranchised areas” can provide opportunities for jobs and further investments.

“Gaming operators take significant portions of GGR and support worthy causes in our communities through taxes and philanthropy,” Watkins says. “I love that I play a part, albeit small, in all the good I have seen come from the gaming industry.”

Here are their stories.

Click each recipient to read their interview.