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Core Values Drive Scientific Games

Gavin Isaacs, President and CEO at Scientific Games Corporation, is on the road more than he is in his office. Jack Bulavsky, Special Assignment Correspondent for Casino Life in Las Vegas, was fortunate to sit with him before Isaacs began his monthly travels.

How much do you travel?

I’m in Las Vegas at least one full week every month and also a few days every other week. Otherwise, I’m traveling around the world. I get to Australia once a year and have spent about 10 percent of my time in the past 12 months in Europe. I’ve never traveled this much and sometimes I stop and think, “Where am I?” I’m hoping the travel settles down.

It’s been nearly a year since Bally Technologies, SHFL, and WMS all came under the Scientific Games umbrella. How are things going?

Overall, things are on track. It’s still a learning process. Keep in mind that Scientific Games is a $3 billion company with more than 8,300 employees worldwide. All of those employees are transitioning from smaller companies. There are some challenges, but we’re doing well. I sometimes get feedback from team members with whom I used to work at our legacy companies telling me that I need to be around more often. But my job is different now and I have an entirely new plate of responsibilities.

Over 8,000 employees. It sounds like you have people in every country in the world. How do you manage such a large company and how would you describe your management style?

We are on six continents in more than 26 countries and have more than 250 locations across the globe. It’s my responsibility to steer the ship, and I’m able to do that because I have a great team. I let them lead. We have monthly meetings to share issues and discuss developments that are vital to the company. The company’s mission is to empower our customers by creating the world’s best gaming and lottery experiences. By staying focused on our mission and the core values already established within Scientific Games, we’re able to move forward, no matter if our people are in China, Western Australia, Nevada, or the Ukraine.

I’m passionate about what I do. I love walking casino properties and looking at machines. I love talking to staff. I enjoy getting to know the lottery side of the business. I love getting in front of customers and listening to them and enjoy the social interaction that allows me to motivate and empower and set goals. My biggest and most enjoyable role is managing people. I’ve learned that bad news doesn’t get better with age, so I handle it right away. I answer all my calls and do my best to practice what I preach. The good thing is I have solid people around me who can run the various companies and are out there driving the company’s growth with me. It flows from the top and that applies to me also. I have an active and supportive Board and we’re learning from each other.

You mentioned the company’s core values?

There are six core values and they all begin with “How We Play:” (1) To Improve the Game. (2) By the Rules. (3) With Passion. (4) Smart. (5) Together. (6) To Win. When we tie these values together, it means that Scientific Games maintains integrity in everything we do and we take ownership and hold ourselves accountable. We continuously innovate and raise the bar because we love what we do and have fun doing it. With one team and one mission, our goal is to surpass the expectations of our stakeholders.

Do you see growth within the industry and where?

Growth is out there with plenty of pockets that can be developed, but it’s not as it was 10 years ago. I told you earlier that I travel extensively and as I walk through casinos, I see busy casinos. People are still having fun and operators are making the experience fun for them. That is what it’s all about. There is a different way of thinking today as it relates to games and what brings customers in the front door. That thinking is continuously evolving and evolving rapidly.

What about gaming manufacturers. What is their future and do you expect more consolidation?

I believe that consolidation among manufacturers is going to continue. There are benefits to leveraging the up-front costs of setting up manufacturing, the expense of obtaining and maintaining licenses in all the various jurisdictions, the infrastructure needed for developing and maintaining support technology, and the talent base needed for quality game development across more products and a larger business. Consolidations like ours with Bally and WMS allow us to eliminate many of the redundant costs and operate more efficiently as a united company focused on growing our business. I think other manufacturers will do the same.

Developing games, themes, and concepts is wonderful, but there is a process. Once that process is completed, it takes time to see if the idea catches on. You can create a game, but if it’s not going to make money, then it doesn’t make any sense. What we know now is that those playing games today still enjoy playing the current range of games, whether it’s an older reel game or one of the newer interactive games. The challenge is the younger players who have a limited income right now. We’re aware of them and they will eventually have the disposable income for entertainment options like casino gaming. They are our future.

G2E 2015 will be the first G2E show in which all the new companies are under the Scientific Games umbrella. What can we expect?

As one of the world’s premier gaming and lottery entertainment technology companies, we will demonstrate our unique products including the Bally, Barcrest, Scientific Games, Shuffle Master, Williams, and WMS brands. We have a repertoire of market-leading electronic gaming machines and table games and equipment from across the company’s diverse array of brands, and those products represent our broad portfolio of gaming technology solutions. That’s what we are: one company with multiple, established brands. Our floor is going to be exciting, and those coming to visit are going to walk away knowing that each brand is continuing to do what it does best. And one more thing: I, along with our executive staff, will be on the floor and I want everyone to come by and say hello. More than anything, I hope to see a lot of interaction between us and our many customers and friends.