It’s never easy for any business to admit that it could use some outside help.
However, as casinos morph into multi-function gaming resorts hosting diverse offerings beneath a single roof, it has become increasingly unrealistic to expect in-house leadership teams to be nuanced in all business aspects of the enterprise, especially at small- and mid-sized operations. Indeed, a staff that is expert in managing casino operations may have some difficulties mastering the subtleties of, say, booking live entertainment, running a restaurant or marketing an online social gaming site.
Fortunately for casino operators, there are a wide variety of consultants ready and willing to offer money- and time-saving advice, services and even software products for almost any facet of the modern gaming business. What follows is a rundown of some of the larger management consultancies that have made gaming news in 2016 and bear watching in the future, as determined by the editors of Casino Journal.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The list below does not include J Carcamo Associates, Raving Consulting and RubinBrown Gaming Services. All three are popular and newsworthy consultancies but also regular contributors to this magazine and content partners. We are obviously biased in their favor and, to preserve impartiality, thought it best not to profile them in this article.
JOSEPH EVE, CPAS
Founded in 1983, Montana-based JOSEPH EVE, CPAs is a team of more than 60 certified public accountants, certified fraud examiners and experienced team members providing a wide range of services for clients in more than 28 states. The firm’s services include external and internal audit, financial management software, Title 31/AML assessments, finance process optimization, accounting assistance, fraud investigations and controller/CFO advisory services. Additionally, the company consults on information technology, PCI compliance, accounting system implementation, tax services, business advisory and conducts national seminars.
It has been a very busy 2016 for JOSEPH EVE. Early in the year, the firm won a contract to conduct external auditing services for Casino Pauma in Southern California. It also has expanded its accounting services to the Pawnee Development Corporation of Oklahoma and its three casinos—StoneWolf Casino & Grill, Tee Pee Casino, and Trading Post Casino. More recently, JOSEPH EVE secured a major contract to conduct a Title 31 risk assessment for a four-site casino operator in Oklahoma.
“As commercial and tribal gaming continues to grow, so does the frequency with which the operations are targeted by criminals for money laundering,” Glen Galt, senior gaming manager for JOSEPH EVE, said in a press release. “The criminals’ diligence must be exceeded by the casino’s diligence in adhering to Title 31 requirements and shoring up their defenses against nefarious activities. A Title 31 Risk Assessment is a positive step in the right direction.”
JOSEPH EVE has also had a rather successful year on the product front, which included acquiring the online “NWJE University Title 31 Course” from Everi, essentially creating a single source for the operation and management of client online learning needs.
Along with the purchase came the decision to rebrand the online training to JE University and serve as the single source for content creation, operation and account management for the training site.
The firm’s cloud-based financial management system, CasinoEdge powered by Intacct, has had some notable hits of late, including installation at the Three Affiliated Tribes (MNA Nation) enterprises in North Dakota. According to the company’s website, Three Affiliated Tribes’ will use the innovative and cloud-based Intacct system, which includes accounting, cash management, purchasing, human resource management, payroll management, vendor management, financial consolidation, revenue recognition, project accounting, fund accounting, inventory management, and financial reporting applications.
“We are very pleased to have earned the trust of the Three Affiliate Tribes and to be implementing our Intacct solution and other services across the Nation’s entire enterprise,” said Joseph Eve, founder and managing partner of JOSEPH EVE. “Many tribal organizations and the entities they own use accounting software that was created in the pre-internet era. The Intacct solution was specifically created to today’s business environment and needs, and as such, it streamlines processes, increases efficiencies and eliminates wasteful spending.”
NATHAN ASSOCIATES INC.
Founded in 1946, Nathan Associates is one of the oldest and most respected economic consulting firms in the United States. Its gaming practice offers a one-stop shop for gaming operators, suppliers, investors, Native American tribes, states, U.S. federal agencies, and foreign governments.
According to a company release, Nathan Associates has a reputation for objective, insightful and comprehensive work. This reputation was built over years of researching and analyzing gaming issues for use in business operations and planning, public policy matters and litigation. Nathan Associates’ gaming industry consultants conduct research and analysis on all sectors of the gaming industry and in all 48 states in which it operates in the U.S., as well as internationally. They analyze introductions of planned gaming facilities, development and operation of existing gaming facilities and integration of non-gaming amenities. Their reputation and engagement with the industry explains why industry leaders, governments, regulators, courts, academics and other consultants frequently rely on Nathan Associates’ consultants, particularly in complex, high-stakes, controversial and disputed matters.
Principal Economist Alan Meister, Ph.D., leads the firm’s gaming practice. For more than 15 years, he has conducted extensive consulting and scholarly research and analysis of the industry. His work has been instrumental in assisting major gaming operators and suppliers, gaming associations, investors, and tribal and non-tribal governments navigate the growing and evolving opportunities and challenges facing the industry in day-to-day business matters, business development and planning, public policy matters, regulation and litigation. His work has been used in matters before the U.S. Supreme Court, World Trade Organization, National Indian Gaming Commission, Bureau of Indian Affairs and various state agencies.
Each year, Dr. Meister authors the annual Indian Gaming Industry Report. In its 14th edition, this well-known and highly regarded scholarly publication, which has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, provides current, unique, cutting-edge research and analysis on the economic state of Indian gaming. The Report contains nationwide and state statistics; state-by-state summaries; trend analyses; performance comparisons across states and classes of gaming; comparisons with other gaming segments; an economic impact analysis of Indian gaming’s contribution to the U.S. economy; and a qualitative future outlook. The 2016 edition can be found at www.indiangamingreport.com.
Recently, Dr. Meister and academic affiliates Dr. Clyde Barrow and David Borges co-authored a groundbreaking study, “An Empirical Framework for Assessing Market Saturation in the U.S. Casino Industry,” published in the June 2016 issue of Gaming Law Review and Economics, a leading peer-reviewed journal. In the article, several metrics for measuring market saturation are identified, compared, applied to markets that have been widely acknowledged as being saturated, and proposed as benchmarks for evaluating saturation in other markets.
THE INNOVATION GROUP
The Innovation Group is the premier provider of advisory services for the gaming and leisure industries, with offices in New York, Orlando, Fla., Denver, Aspen, Colo., and New Orleans. According to the company website, the firm has extensive experience working with gaming and hospitality operators, property and technology developers, banking institutions, and governments, and has conducted studies and analyses touching over $100 billion in investment and operating decisions over the last 20 years. The Innovation Group has inventive, forward-looking staff professionals known throughout the industry for the accuracy of analysis and timely response to client needs. Among the core services provided are traditional casino and online gaming market feasibility studies, econometric analysis, operations and marketing advisory services and strategic business plans. Expanded capabilities in construction management and investment banking are also offered through The Innovation Group’s affiliates, Innovation Project Development and Innovation Capital.
Over this past year, The Innovation Group’s biggest splash has perhaps been in the international marketplace, where it helped Mohegan Sun secure the winning bid to construct an integrated destination resort in Incheon, Korea. The Inspire Resort, with an estimated Phase One cost of $1.6 billion, will be developed by a consortium led by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA), in the well-established development zone near Korea’s Incheon International Airport, according to company press materials.
The Innovation Group was retained by MTGA to assess the market potential and prepare a demand and feasibility study for the Inspire Resort, which will include a 20,000-square-meter casino with 250 gaming tables, including 50 VIP tables, and 1,500 slot machines and a three-tower luxury hotel complex.
“The projections and programming inputs provided by The Innovation Group were a critical component of our comprehensive bid,” said Bobby Soper, president of MTGA, earlier this year. “The company will continue to be a valued resource in the planning and development of the resort.”
The Innovation Group is also helping gaming operators looking to make inroadsinto Brazil. Recently the firm announced the development of a national gaming forecast model for Brazil, and the formation of a consortium with Brazil-based BetConsult and Federico Lannes IGC, to bring clients comprehensive gaming regulatory anddevelopment services in Brazil. As the Brazil legislature prepares to vote on landmark gaming legislation as early as November, the consortium has been hard at work addressing regulatory parameters with government officials, and preparing analytical tools to estimate revenue potential and profitability under a wide range of bingo, casino and potentially online gaming opportunities.
On the domestic scene, The Innovation Group launched a new website this year, positioned to reflect the global direction of the company and its expansion into new areas of the gaming industry. The site incorporates new technologies targeting a new generation of leisure and gaming consumers and clients.
“With our new website, we continue to adapt our own business and services to help our clients survive and thrive in the new gaming and entertainment landscape,” said Tom Zitt, partner for The Innovation Group.
Late last year McGladrey LLP, a long-time provider of financial consulting services for the tribal and commercial gaming marketplaces, re-branded as RSM US LLP (RSM), uniting fellow firms from more than 110 countries in the RSM International network under a common name. This move made RSM aleading provider of audit, tax and consulting services with more than 8,000 people in 80 offices nationwide. It is a licensed CPA firm and the U.S. member of RSM International, a global network of independent audit, tax and consulting firms with more than 37,500 people in over 110 countries.
The unified brand is also part of an initiative to further RSM’s vision to be the first-choice advisor to middle-market leaders globally. “Since we helped found the RSM International network more than 50 years ago, our firm has been dedicated to taking the middle market to the global market,” said Joe Adams, managing partner and CEO of RSM at the time of the new brand launch. “As middle-market companies increase their participation in the global economy, they are challenged by the ever-changing regulatory and business landscape. For decades our firm has combined an understanding of our clients’ unique challenges and aspirations with our knowledge of the global business environment to help leaders move forward with confidence. The RSM brand brings this enduring commitment to life in a real and tangible way.”
The push toward middle-market business appears to have been a success—the list of America’s Best Management Consulting firms for 2016 from Forbes included RMS US.
“Being included on Forbes’ list of America’s Best Management Consulting Firms for 2016 reflects the double-digit growth our consulting line of business has been experiencing for the past several years, and the deep level of understanding we have of our middle-market clients across the country and around the globe,” said Gary Sturisky, partner-national consulting leader with RSM. “Since we truly understand the middle market, we’re able to develop innovative solutions that help them meet their unique needs. It’s an honor to be a part of our clients’ success, and to be recognized on this list.”