by Howard Stutz, The Nevada Independent, April 6, 2022
Tom O’Brien returned to Aristocrat Technologies two years ago and settled into the role of general manager after 13 years in sales and leadership positions with rival gaming equipment providers.
Two weeks after O’Brien started, COVID-19 sent everyone home. He barely had time to get acclimated to Aristocrat’s Summerlin headquarters.
But even as the world “shut down,” O’Brien said Aristocrat’s efforts never slowed.
“We never stopped working as a group,” O’Brien said in a recent interview with The Nevada Independent. “We kept our design development teams working, we kept our service teams out there to help the customers, which was super important. And our focus as executives was taking care of our employees. I think it paid off for us.”
In February, O’Brien was promoted to president of Aristocrat’s Americas Division, which also includes oversight of Aristocrat’s European business.
At the same time, O’Brien’s predecessor, Hector Fernandez, was promoted to CEO of Aristocrat Gaming, which oversees the company’s land-based gaming products and services division. Mitchell Bowen, who was CEO of the land-based business, now heads the group that is growing Aristocrat’s online gaming segment.
“Mitchell’s focus is going to be on the digital part of the market,” O’Brien said. “What we’ve done is put that third pillar into place.”
O’Brien said his focus is on maintaining and growing Aristocrat’s presence with land-based casinos. The effort between the two divisions allows Aristocrat to offer tools to its customers where casinos can market to their players both online and physically at the property.
When online gaming first launched, companies used older versions of slot machine games and put them up on a platform to see how they performed.
“Now (online gaming) is so hot, I think everybody’s looking to see how fast they can upgrade their platforms and make sure their clientele can play in both areas (online and at casinos),” O’Brien said.
Aristocrat has been working in partnership with “a couple of the big operators” on building an online platform that appeals to both market segments.
“You really want to use it as an advantage and get more customers into your land-based casinos,” he said.
Prior to rejoining Aristocrat, O’Brien held sales roles with two of the largest gaming equipment providers, Scientific Games and International Game Technology. During the pandemic, he was able to communicate with casino customers remotely.
“Our design and development teams have just done a fantastic job for our company,” O’Brien said. “They continue to keep putting out a fantastic product which keeps us number one in innovation, in my opinion.”
In two weeks, Aristocrat plans to unveil some new slot machine products and advancements at the National Indian Gaming Association trade show and conference in Anaheim, California. O’Brien said it will give the company’s customers “just a little taste” of what’s in store ahead of October’s Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.
“We have some pretty exciting stuff coming up for G2E,” O’Brien said. “Hopefully, we’ll have some announcements soon.”
Aristocrat is also looking for ways to advance cashless gaming.
In partnership with Sightline Payments, Aristocrat’s casino management system is facilitating cashless wagering activities at Boyd Gaming casinos throughout Las Vegas and at the company’s two properties in Indiana.
O’Brien said the trial for regulators was successful and the system has since advanced from slot machines to table games at Boyd’s Las Vegas properties. The acceptance of cashless gaming by casino customers, however, is still in the early stages.
“It’s probably not growing as fast as we would like, but it’s new,” he said.