A Webinar Series

Presented by

The Innovation Group, Regulatory Management Counselors, and Global Gaming Business Magazine, have combined their gaming industry expertise and perspective to present a webinar series designed to help gaming companies, operators, manufacturers and suppliers, executives, employees, investors and customers navigate the "new normal" as the world struggles through and emerges from the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Throughout this period, the Gaming in Crisis webinars will analyze and chart the recovery path for each segment of the industry. A diverse range of experts and our own professionals will examine and identify impacts, mitigation measures, and best practices in their respective fields for making it through and moving forward. The webinars are free and open to all participants of the industry simply by registering to attend.

WEBINAR 5: Thursday, May 28, 2020 | 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

Design Changes: What Will a Casino Resort Look Like in the Wake of Covid-19?

We’ve already seen Plexiglas partitions, more space between slot machines, limited number of players at table games and every other slot machine deactivated.

So what’s next? How will restaurants survive and thrive? Will lounges be the center of entertainment for a casino resort? How will showrooms be re-started in the wake of social distancing? What will the meetings & conventions space look like?

At this session, visionary architects and designers will interact with casino operators to discuss what might work and how customers may respond.

MODERATOR:

Michael Soll

Michael Soll

President, The Innovation Group

SPEAKERS:

Frank Freedman

Frank Freedman

COO, Four Winds Casinos

 

Robert Gdowski

Robert Gdowski

Principal | Director of Hospitality Design,
JCJ Architecture

 

Nathan Peak

Nathan Peak

Principal / Partner,
HBG Design

All webinars are free. Additional webinars to be announced.

WEBINAR 1: Thursday, April 16, 2020 | 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

Beyond CARES: How the Relief Bill Helps the Industry and Employees and Where it May Fall Short

The CARES Act provides $2 trillion in aid and relief to American companies and workers, including assistance for the gaming industry, one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. But how relief applies to different properties and companies will vary. This session will review how funds can be distributed to large and small companies in gaming to assist and retain employees or furlough them with the least financial impact. HR, finance and legal experts will weigh in on this session.

TOPICS INCLUDE:

  • Who qualifies for assistance?
  • What constitutes a large vs. a small business?
  • What are the liability issues and mitigation?

MODERATOR:

Robert Russell

Robert Russell

Gaming Analyst,
Regulatory Management Counselors, PC

SPEAKERS:

Jennifer Martinez

Jennifer Martinez

President and CEO,
Consult HR Partners, LLC

 

Anthony Sanfilippo

Anthony Sanfilippo

Co-founder of Sorelle Capital, Sorelle Entertainment and Sorelle Hospitality

 

Matt Sodl

Matt Sodl

Founding Partner, President & Managing Director, Innovation Capital

WEBINAR 2: Thursday, April 23, 2020 | 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

Taking Care of Business: Difficult Decisions Ahead

Re-opening is still a ways off. It's a hopeful time, but a stressful one as well. Each property is going to have to make difficult decisions about what the "new normal" will look like. In this session a variety of experts will cover the important issue of re-opening and how the corporate and employee structure will change and evolve.

TOPICS INCLUDE:

  • Who continues to work during the shutdown?
  • Who comes back early to prepare for reopening?
  • What about executive compensation?
  • Should you use debt to cover the costs of reopening and what are the regulatory implications?
  • How do you re-boot your systems and operations?
  • How do you restart your marketing programs and how will they change in the new environment?

MODERATOR:

Michael Soll

President, The Innovation Group

SPEAKERS:

Bobby Soper

President & CEO, Sun
Gaming & Hospitality

 

Ellen F. Whittemore

Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Wynn Resorts

 

Josh Swissman

Founding Partner, The Strategy Organization

WEBINAR 3: Thursday, April 30, 2020 | 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

Tribal Troubles: How Indian Gaming Will Rebound

The coronavirus knows no boundaries so the impact on tribal gaming in the U.S. has been just as devastating as it has been in the commercial gaming sector.

But tribes are different. Shareholders might grumble about lower dividends or stock prices, but the slump in Indian Country impacts tribal members in much more dramatic ways. Whether it’s money to fund tribal government activities, employment at the casino or other benefits received by tribal members, the current situation has a massive impact.

At this session, tribal gaming executives and those familiar with Indian Country will examine how the tribal gaming industry can recover, what the steps will be, and how this crisis will change operations from now on.

MODERATOR:

Roger Gros

Roger Gros

Publisher, Global Gaming Business Magazine

SPEAKERS:

John J. James

John J. James

Former President and CEO, Foxwoods Resort Casino

 

Ray Pineault

Ray Pineault

President and General Manager, Mohegan Sun

 

Matt Sodl

Matthew Wesaw

Tribal Council Chairman, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians

WEBINAR 4: Thursday, May 14, 2020 | 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

Moving Forward: iGaming in the Covid-19 Era

While most of the gaming industry has been devastated by the Covid-19 crisis, one part of the business is thriving. With players barred from casinos, online gaming has taken a giant leap forward. Not only does it provide continuing revenue for casino companies in times such as these, but states collect taxes where none existed before.

But will the bloom fade when the crisis is over, or will states and jurisdictions rush to fill the void left by the continued absence of iGaming?

Experts will discuss the long-term viability of online gaming and how the Covid-19 crisis has awakened some of its most subtle critics.

MODERATOR:

Roger Gros

Roger Gros

Publisher, Global Gaming Business Magazine

SPEAKERS:

Sue Schneider

Sue Schneider

VP, Growth & Strategy, Americas, Sports Betting Community (SBC)

 

Dermot Smurfit

Dermot Smurfit

CEO, GAN

 

Kresimir Spajic

Kresimir Spajic

Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Online Gaming and Sports Betting, Hard Rock International

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SPEAKERS

Frank Freedman has a demonstrated history of working in the casino and entertainment industry. He was appointed Chief Operating Officer for Four Winds Casinos in 2015, having previously served as Assistant General Manager of Four Winds New Buffalo, and General Manager of Four Winds Hartford and Four Winds Dowagiac.

Prior to joining the Pokagon Band Of Potawatomi Indians in their Four Winds enterprise, Frank held senior executive positions at Trump Entertainment Resorts, including Vice President of Hotel Operations andVice President Food & Beverage at Trump Plaza.

He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) focused in Accounting and Business/Management from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden.


As a principle and director of hospitality design for JCJ Architecture, Bob Gdowski, AIA, is an entrepreneurial-minded architect and planner, who excels within the cross-functional environments of luxury hospitality and mixed-use development industries. Spending the majority of his career in Las Vegas and Asia, Bob has collaborated with a diverse range of international hotel operators including: Four Seasons, Starwood, Marriott, Hilton, Atlantis and Caesar’s Entertainment. Bob is a seasoned leader who combines a strong team-building mentality and exceptional leadership skills with international experience and a passion for collective success. His appetite for experiential design is complemented by his commitment to making these bespoke guest experiences monetizable.

Bob has presented at numerous design and development focused conferences. He is a member of Urban Land Institute and has been certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. He earned a Bachelor of Architecture and a Master in Planning from the University of Southern California.


Michael Soll was a founding member of The Innovation Group team and now brings 25 years of experience with senior roles in leading hospitality companies, investment banks, and as an industry advisor. His capabilities range from project development expertise, such as analyzing project plans and financials, to more strategic deliverables, which include brand deployment, asset management, and capital planning. Michael has also crafted and negotiated management and operating agreements in gaming and hospitality transactions. In combination, this set of talents and abilities enables Michael to provide a high level of advisory oversight.

In addition to leading The Innovation Group in its day to day operations from the company’s Orlando office, Michael is focused on ventures taken on by the firm involving complex projects or high profile clients, usually including the introduction of gaming legislation in new jurisdictions, the analysis of large-scale leisure investment opportunities, assignments related to the deployment of brands at new and existing properties, and strategic and business planning initiatives.

Before rejoining The Innovation Group in 2008, Michael was Vice President of Casinos for Hard Rock International. In this capacity, he led the worldwide development activities for Hard Rock Casinos and their related hotel, condo, and resort assets. Prior to his position at Hard Rock, Michael was Vice President, Planning & Development for Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas where he managed Caesars’ development efforts in existing and emerging U.S., international and Tribal gaming jurisdictions. Before joining Caesars, he was Director of Asset Management at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, where he oversaw Starwood’s managed and joint venture hotel portfolios under the Sheraton, Westin and W brands. Michael joined Starwood from Bear Stearns & Co., in New York, where he served as Vice President, Leisure Equity Research, covering mid and large-cap gaming and lodging companies.

Michael holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Geography and Urban and Regional Planning, respectively, from the University of Wisconsin and the College of Urban and Public Affairs. He frequently publishes articles related to the gaming and leisure industries and speaks regularly at industry conferences. Michael’s passions include family, food, music, community and philanthropy.​


As Design Discipline Leader at HBG Design, Nathan Peak is passionate about creating engaging, uplifting expressions of architecture that are grounded in a vocabulary that celebrates culture, art, and geographic context with a modernistic edge.

Nathan’s work has been a hallmark of the firm’s casino resort practice for over a decade; his every project uniquely rooted in narrative and embodying the vernacular of a particular region to evoke a sense of place. Nathan’s broad abilities have been extremely effective in visually interpreting client culture and brand into achievable and engaging design solutions.

His innovative designs prominently stand out in the marketplace and have received national acclaim; including the celebrated Four Winds Casino in Hartford, Michigan, winner of the 2012 G2E Casino Design Award for Best Native American Casino Resort and Best Overall Casino Resort (Commercial & Native American) under $250 M. Nathan is also a 2014 Global Gaming Business “Top 40 Under 40” winner. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute.