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Oct. 22, 2021

Written by: Nicole Schultz, Global Gaming Capital Coordinator, International Gaming Institute

Every November, casino properties from across the globe send their best and brightest “rising stars” to Lake Tahoe to participate in a very special partnership program between UNLV’s International Gaming Institute and the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Business and Extended Studies.  

Now in its 27th year, the Executive Development Program (EDP) remains the first and only program of its kind—designed to elevate leaders in the gaming-hospitality industry.

This rigorous industry “bootcamp” includes classroom-style lectures and mentorship from top-level executives and culminates in a final team project, judged by some of the same executives.  

To name just a few of the speakers from this year:

  1. Virginia McDowell, former President & CEO of Isle of Capri Casinos, who spoke on how she became one of the first and only female CEOs in the gaming industry.

  2. Roger Snow, Senior Vice President of Scientific Games, who described innovation in the gaming industry and the components of a great table game.

  3. Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming, who explored the rise of the esports phenomenon and how to best incorporate esports into the integrated resort experience.

In just nine short days, participants use what they’ve learned in the classroom and work in teams to build an integrated resort from the ground up. The location of the resort? That remains top secret until participants arrive—it’s part of the challenge!

Perhaps Bill King of Sky City (Auckland, NZ) does the best job of summarizing his EDP experience:

“It is probably been one of the most challenging and intense...but satisfactory weeks of my life.”

It’s not all work and no play in Lake Tahoe, however. In addition to the skills mastered and lessons learned, team building, networking, and the relationships fostered are some of the most memorable experiences participants have of EDP.

After his final team presentation, Rodrigo Fernandez of Golden Lion Entertainment Group (Monterrey, Mexico) said of the program:

“It was an amazing experience. In my team of 7, I got the chance to work with people of 5 different nationalities. The diversity of the program was incredible, and I’m so impressed with what we were able to accomplish and grateful for the friends I’ve gained. I’m actually planning a trip to Cancun with fellow attendees next summer.”

Tricia Smylie of Sugarhouse Casino (Philadelphia, PA, USA) echoed a similar sentiment:  

“I’ve gained so much from this program. I have a much better understanding of how everything comes together in a casino...from operations, to regulation, to compliance, and everything in between. You learn from each other and grow with each other. Now if I run into a problem in my casino back home, I have a network of 60+ people I can go to for an answer.”

From the education, to the connections, to the friendships—the Executive Development Program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we hope to see you there next year.