Mixing Business & Pleasure: Top Women in Gaming

Women in Business & Gaming

Historically, the global industry of gaming has been dominated by men. Men have chosen to game more often than women, and have also been involved in gaming enterprises significantly more, whether this means owning a casino or dealing at a table. However, these numbers aren't nearly as disproportionate today as more women get involved in the industry at all levels.

In April of 2018, Bloomberg Business named Pansy Ho, co-chair of MGM Macau, as 'Hong Kong's Richest Woman'. With a net worth estimated around $5.5 billion, many women dream of being the next Pansy Ho — or the next Denise Coates. Coates, like Ho, is a business magnate. She is the founder and co-chair of Bet365, a sports betting company that made over $600 million in 2017 alone and turned Coates into a billionaire businesswoman.

While it's common to play a game of blackjack online or check the odds on racing picks before betting on a horse like Shes All Woman, it can be difficult to combine these popular hobbies with shrewd business. So, how have top businesswomen and professionals found a way to mix the pleasure of gaming with a successful business model?

The secret seems to be a background in both gaming and economics, as well as an ability to risk it all by doing something new and innovative. For instance, when Ho inherited her father's business and turned it into a deal with MGM Resorts International, she decided she would stick out by catering to VIP guests and the ultra-elite. This enabled her to help MGM Macau stand out amongst other locations, even its fellow MGM Cotai, which is also located in Macau.

In Coates case, she 'bet it all' by mortgaging she and her brothers' existing betting shops to develop what is now one of the most successful online betting companies in the world. Like Ho, Coates worked with her family to accomplish her business goals before innovating her own path.

Women Who Game

While Ho and Coates offer insight into ownership and branding of major businesses, other women are in on the ground-floor — literally. One of the world's greatest poker players is Vanessa Selbst of the United States (though we're sure Ho could give her a run for her money). Selbst has won over $10 million in poker tournaments alone and boasts an impressive academic legacy. Selbst has two degrees from Yale, and is the only woman to have ever made it to the number one spot in the Global Poker Index. She's also the only poker player to have won two North American Poker Tour Main Event titles two years in a row.

Close on Selbst's tail is Annette Obrestad of Norway, who became an international sensation when she became the youngest player to win the World Series of Poker Europe in 2007. Unlike Selbst, Obrestad got her start on the internet, which is proving more and more popular as a place for gamers to develop skills.

Other notable names got their start before the birth of the internet, making their accomplishments worth a look. Lottie Deno, for instance, was a queen of poker back in the days of the Wild West, able to beat Doc Holliday and put a pretty penny away in her savings account. Judy Bayley and Shirley Brancucci weren't players themselves, though they both made a name by being in the gaming business on the Las Vegas strip in the 1950s. Bayley took over her late husband's casino business, while Brancucci became the first female dealer of baccarat before transitioning to the blackjack tables.

3 Min Read

Five Essential Lessons to Keep in Mind When You're Starting Your Own Business

"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.

Find A Need And Fill It

I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.

Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.

Have Working Capital And Credit

There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.

I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.

Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.

My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.

Know Your Product Thoroughly

I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?

My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.

My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!

More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.

Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth

I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.

I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.

Delegate From The Bottom Up

I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.

In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.