Scientific Games attracts executives from competitor to boost management team

Howard Stutz has over 30 years of experience reporting on the gaming industry.

Gambling equipment supplier Scientific Games has revamped the leadership team of the Las Vegas-based company’s games division, bringing aboard three executives from a rival manufacturer to oversee slot machine development and other casino industry business opportunities.

Matt Wilson will become the Gaming Group’s chief executive on March 1. Siobhan Lane will become the division’s chief commercial officer on February 1. Connie James joined Scientific Games as CFO for the group on Jan. 6.

The changes had been anticipated since last July, when Wilson and Lane left their positions with Aristocrat Technologies. Both executives were under non-compete agreements for the rest of last year. The appointments were announced Tuesday.

“We are committed to making great games and products players and partners love,” said Scientific Games CEO Barry Cottle. “A strong team of passionate people is the foundation of any great business and will further solidify our position as the world leader in gaming entertainment.”

Wilson, the former managing director and CEO of Aristocrat’s Americas division, has more than 16 years of experience in the gaming industry and oversaw much of the U.S. growth for the Australian gaming giant. He has been credited with delivering double digit growth while capitalizing on new business opportunities.

Under Wilson’s direction, Aristocrat consolidated its North American headquarters from five separate buildings spread across Las Vegas into an 180,000-square-foot facility on a 12-acre campus in the Summerlin area. The site opened in December 2018.

Lane, who has more than 12 years’ experience in the gaming industry, served as Aristocrat’s senior vice president for marketing and gaming operations in the U.S.

James was previously CFO of the global land-based gaming division at Aristocrat. She most recently served as a corporate vice president of finance at Cargill.

In an internal message to the company, Cottle said Brian Pierce, currently Aristocrat’s senior vice president of sales, would join Scientific Games as Senior Vice President of gaming sales for the Americas division. Pierce spent 17 years in gaming industry sales. He will join Scientific Games later this year.

“This is an exciting time for our Gaming division and the entire SG organization,” Cottle wrote in the internal message.

Derik Mooberry, who has served as Scientific Games’ Gaming Group chief executive, will transition to a strategic advisory role to support the new leadership team.

“We have assembled an impressive leadership team that will complement the existing leaders and talent in our business, further strengthening our great organization and enabling our future potential,” Cottle said.

Scientific Games, Aristocrat, and International Game Technology are considered the three largest slot machine providers in the casino industry.

Primarily a lottery-centric operation, Scientific Games began expanding into the casino side of the business in 2013 with the purchase of slot machine provider WMS Industries. Two years later, the company acquired Bally Technologies in a $5.1 billion deal.

Scientific Games Chairman Ronald Perelman, a New York-based financier who controls nearly 40% of the Las Vegas-based company through his MacAndrews & Forbes investment arm, spent more than $40 million to boost his controlling stake in the past year.

Late last year, Scientific Games refinanced $1.2 billion of the company’s long-term debt, a move that followed a third quarter earnings announcement in which the company impressed the investment community. Scientific Games reported increased revenues 4% and $18 million of net income, reversing a net loss from a year ago.

Last May, Former Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. CEO Jamie Odell joined the company as a special advisor to Perelman.

In a note to investors following the announcement, SunTrust Bank gaming analyst Barry Jonas viewed the management changes as an “incremental positive” because Wilson wasn’t expected to start until the summer.

“We understand Matt Wilson’s non-compete didn’t end until August and some investors were concerned that Gaming could be in a holding pattern until then,” Jonas wrote in a research note. “Moving up Mr. Wilson’s start date by roughly six months should remove any investor uncertainty, though we believe Mr. Odell has already been influential at Scientific Games and outgoing Gaming CEO Derik Mooberry presented a strong case for growth at G2E.