For soon-to-be-inducted Sports Betting Hall of Famer Staci Alonso, her career path and her reputation is not about a particular specialty. Rather, Alonso made a name for herself by making a point to know about everything. And for her, that wasn’t a chore, it was a privilege.

Sports Betting HOF: Alonso credits her success to being a sponge

Oftentimes, people fall into a career path and never deviate. They find a field or a specialty that works for them and they lean into it.

For soon-to-be-inducted Sports Betting Hall of Famer Staci Alonso, her career path and her reputation is not about a particular specialty. Rather, Alonso made a name for herself by making a point to know about everything. And for her, that wasn’t a chore, it was a privilege.

“I really did fall in love with the industry. I think the greatest compliment I ever got along the way was somebody calling me a sponge,” Alonso told SBC.

She got her start in Atlantic City, a town that was getting its own start when Alonso began her career in a casino player’s club. She said the nerves lasted for maybe three days before she started feeling like she was right at home.

From there, Alonso began to rapidly rise, moving from role to role and up the ladder. She did that despite not having any connections to help pull her up.

“I didn’t know anyone and I gave a lot to the industry, and I’m grateful to say that the industry gave back to me as well.”

By the age of 25, Alonso had relocated to Vegas working in roles that were traditionally not filled by female employees. She admitted it wasn’t always easy but anyone who questioned whether this young woman deserved to have a seat at the table, they would quickly change their tune.

“They just respected that I was there because I loved the business and I wanted to do a good job. And I wasn’t there to take anybody else’s, so I just kept getting opportunities.”

The old saying goes that luck is when preparation meets opportunity but there was no element of chance to Alonso’s rise in Vegas.

“I put the responsibility on myself to not sit as comfortably in my chair as my peers. I came in carrying every possible notebook so that if there was a question asked, I could get to the answer,” she recalled.

The efforts paid in substantial returns, with Alonso moving from the Tropicana to new opportunities, including eight years as the VP of Marketing and Advertising for the local casino company Station Casinos.

In those formative years, Alonso was hands-on in every facet of the casino business, not just marketing. Her curiosity and love for the industry pushed her on to ask questions and understand where everyone was coming from.

It might be surprising then that Alonso’s next stop was not the Las Vegas Strip but the world of B2B. She worked as CMO of Warner Gaming before moving to one of the top-tier suppliers in the business, IGT.

Her stint there lasted less than two years. While some might suggest the short tenure is indicative of a mistake, even in hindsight Alonso says it was a necessary stop in her journey that brought her new insight about how to do her job.

“I love that I went there and obtained value, hopefully brought some value and then applied it going back to where I felt I belonged,” she said. “Every day there is an opportunity to learn something new about yourself, and I look at my time on the B2B side of our industry as another place for me to be the voice of the guest – and it made me realize how much influence the guest had on my passion overall.”

In he returned to Station Casinos, bringing her insights from the supplier side to a role as CMO and Executive VP of Marketing and Innovation.

For example, she learned through IGT’s acquisition of social gaming company Double Down how additive online products can be to land-based companies. While others were quick to balk at the idea playing casino games for free could help casino companies, she immediately saw the appeal, the crossover, and caught on to the benefits of the omnichannel approach a decade before the word became the buzzword of the online gaming community.

Another area where Alonso was ahead of the sports betting companies of today was understanding the importance of outsourcing and project management when it comes to developing a tech stack. Alonso was an integral part of Station Casinos’s partnership with Stadium Tech and Miomni Gaming that resulted in the 2016 launch of a brand-new version of the Station online betting app.

The sportsbook started out on its own in-house tech, but it became clear to Station Casinos owners, the Fertitta family, Alonso as well as Station Casinos VP of Race and Sportsbook Operations (and fellow Sports Betting Hall of Famer) Art Manteris that the future depended on the switch.

So, Alonso and Manteris, in collaboration with the rest of the Station Casinos team, went through a process many operators are going through now–finding that balance between a partner’s tech and a property’s brand.

“We had to make difficult decisions at the time to progress with our betting platform, to take advantage of outsourcing, innovation and skill sets,” she recalled. “But at the same time, we wanted our own, not only branding, but some of the categories and components.”

The end result was a betting app that offered a solid online experience but also augmented the land-based properties Alonso held so dearly.

Even with the fancy title and the big time projects, Alonso also took pride in always being willing to go back to her roots. There was no task too small and her time on the floor kept her connected to what the brand is about and the people behind it.

“As Chief Marketing Officer for Station Casinos it wouldn’t surprise anybody if I jumped in behind the Boarding Pass desk and started printing Boarding Passes if there was a line or handing out free pumpkin pies on pumpkin pie days”

Her five years running marketing for Station Casinos was an incredible homecoming and, for many would have been the capstone of a brilliant career.

Alonso wasn’t done there though.

Once again, she jumped at an opportunity to get into a space of sports she was familiar with but never had an opportunity to take part in directly, which was regulation.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed Alonso as a commissioner of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the group that oversees and regulates boxing and MMA fights in the state. As an operator, Alonso fully understood the importance of fight nights to the Vegas economy.

After a six-year tenure in that regulatory role, Alonso has technically been out of gaming for the past few year. While her charitable foundation Noah’s Animal House and its supporting retail business Bone-ito keep her busy, Alonso would be lying if she didn’t admit that gaming is always on her mind.

After all, she is a gaming sponge and she can’t help but ask questions, read and research and keep the place she feels most at home in her heart and in her head.


The ceremony will take place at SBC Summit North America on May 8.

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