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Betting on the Future: Lovell Walker
This story is part of a series highlighting 50 intriguing alumni as part of the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality’s 50th anniversary celebration.
For decades, the gaming industry revolved around cards, dice, slots, and the like. But as the torch is passed from generation to generation, casinos are charged with discovering new ways to appeal to guests.
Enter the audacious Lovell Walker.
As the Las Vegas customer base evolves, Walker is tasked with redefining the world in which slot machines and table games were once king. A millennial himself, Walker is able to tap into the sensibilities and tastes of a younger crowd, bringing newer technologies such as mobile gaming and e-sports into the casino space at MGM Resorts International.
“I’m not jaded by the old way we used to do things,” he says. “My job is really about, ‘Let’s try this stuff and learn quickly.’ If we fail, we take that lesson and apply it to the next idea. We’re always moving forward.”
But gaining acceptance from veteran casino professionals, Walkers admits, can be challenging.
“I’ve had to manage people twice my age who have been doing their jobs for as long as I’ve been alive,” he says. “It was difficult, but I got their buy-in by getting my hands dirty and showing an interest in learning from them.”
Walker’s gambling curiosity stemmed from an early love of the classic mafia movie Casino. The decision to later study hospitality at UNLV “just made sense” to the Las Vegas native. And his studying continued post-graduation. “I used my UNLV statistics textbook in all of my slot analysis when I first started with MGM,” he says, cracking a smile. “People thought it was weird that I brought a textbook to work, but I was just like, ‘There’s a wealth of information in here. Why don’t you bring yours?’”
Working alongside a vast network of fellow graduates, Walker is proud to be part of the alumni family that includes industry trailblazers like Cindy Kiser Murphey and Bill Hornbuckle, who both served as mentors to Walker at MGM Resorts.
“Being a graduate from the Hotel College means being part of something prestigious,” Walker says. “It’s on my résumé for the rest of my life. When people see me, they see UNLV and vice versa. It’s a badge I wear with honor.”
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