Ben Van Wagner, Oaklawn’s director of information technology since 2006, has been promoted to the senior management team. He initially began working with Oaklawn as a consultant in 1998 and having been involved in every major technology purchase and project since that time, he was the natural choice to take Oaklawn’s technology infrastructure to the next level when gambling was expanded.
While serving in the Marines, Van Wagner graduated from Louisiana Tech University. He began his career during the infancy of the Internet as a freelance consultant setting up Internet service providers and eventually founded one of his own in Hot Springs, AR. While remotely operating this business and a separate technology consulting business, Van Wagner took a detour to California to work on a large project during the dot com boom. Upon returning to Hot Springs, the Minnesota native took up permanent residence in Hot Springs and started a family. He and his wife, Courtni, have three girls, Katelin, Austyn and Helen.
Van Wagner is member of his Alma Mater’s Industrial Advisory Board and International Gaming Technologies (IGT) Customer Advisory Board in addition to participation in a number of local community groups and serving as Oaklawn’s education liaison. In this role, he has guided the establishment of a formalized internship program with local higher and secondary education institutions and has given guest lectures and tours to raise awareness of Oaklawn’s numerous employment opportunities. In addition to local projects Van Wagner worked on Solar and Wind power projects for remote areas in Haiti both before and after the quake in January 2010.
The senior management team was developed in the late 1990s in response to its changing business model and among the original members were general manager Eric Jackson, director of marketing Kim Baron and director of gaming and Wagering Bobby Geiger. Plant superintendent John Hopkins and director of food and beverage Belinda Castleberry joined in 2012. Director of human resources Kelly Mussa was promoted to a SMT last December.