Janice Dillard, Senior Executive Officer of Commerce, Choctaw Nation
Heidi Grant, Executive Officer of Gaming and Hospitality, Choctaw Nation
Tammye Gwin, Senior Director of Business Development, Choctaw Nation
One Team, One Dream
The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States, with over 200,000 tribal members and more than 11,000 employees. The Choctaw Durant Casino and Resort features a 110,000 square feet casino, with games including 4,300 slot machines, over 50 table games, and 30 poker tables.
This episode discusses the following topics:
- The growth of Choctaw gaming development and general background (7:00)
- Early learning experiences and expanding into a business now with over 10,000 games (10:00)
- Utilizing capital gains from gaming to improve underserved communities of the Choctaw Nation in southeastern Oklahoma (14:00)
- Impacts of the pandemic on staffing and how the Choctaw Nation was able to retain employees (18:00)
- The importance of customer service to the casino (21:00)
- What sets the casino apart from others and developing careers for employees (24:00)
- “When employees go home, they feel like they helped build this and they own a piece of it. It’s a piece of their life to be proud of” (26:00)
- Career backgrounds of the guests being long-time employees of the Choctaw Nation (26:00)
- “We were selling experiences back when it was just a bingo” (29:00)
- How Choctaw Durant is incorporating modern gaming trends into its casino and staying relevant (30:00)
- The role of female leadership at the Choctaw Durant (34:00)
- Connections of the Choctaw Nation with the aeronautical industry in Oklahoma (41:00)
- Prospects of using technological innovations such as automation in the casinos (43:00)
- Janie’s role in taking the lead on the creative direction of the casino (45:00)
- The responsibility the guests feel to continue the legacy of the Choctaw Nation and the importance of sustainable practices (48:00)
- “We’re taking our tribe from poverty to prosperity” (52:00)
- How the team unwinds outside of work and their love of karaoke (53:00)
- Leadership styles of the guests (56:00)
- Gambling stories (59:00)
“When employees go home, they feel like they helped build this and they own a piece of it. It’s a piece of their life to be proud of”— Tammye Gwin
“We’re taking our tribe from poverty to prosperity”— Janie Dillard
More about Janice Dillard
Janie Dillard began her career with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in 1982 as a secretary for Community Health. A modern-day trailblazer, Janie set her roots in the gaming industry when the Choctaw Bingo Palace opened in 1987. As Director of Gaming, she led the Nation’s expansion throughout southeastern Oklahoma. By 2001, she was Executive Director of Gaming, managing the Tribe’s gaming compact with the State of Oklahoma and opening four casinos, including the $300 million flagship Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant – completing all projects debt-free.
Janie became Senior Executive Officer for the Division of Commerce in January 2018. In this role, Janie oversees daily operations, provides strategic guidance, and optimizes the Nation’s revenue-generating businesses to accelerate the success of the Tribe and ensure every Choctaw a proud future.
More about Heidi Grant
As the Executive Officer of Gaming and Hospitality for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Heidi has oversight of 22 casinos and six hotels in the Nation’s portfolio, of over 10,000 slots, 1,000 hotel rooms, and 5,000 associates. Her primary focus is to provide strategic direction to a diverse leadership team in our ever-changing competitive industry. Heidi has been with Choctaw Nation for 22 years.
More about the Choctaw Durant Casino and Resort
The Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant is located in Southeastern Oklahoma, about 95 miles north of Dallas. It is one of eight casinos owned by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
The Choctaw Casino and Resort in Durant originally opened in 2006 with a 100,000-square-foot casino. Since that time, there have been four major expansion projects. First, in 2010 a 12-story hotel tower was added. In 2012 a significant upgrade of the Choctaw Lodge and Choctaw Inn was completed. Finally, in 2015 a new hotel tower, the Grand Theater, and The District family entertainment center were opened.
The Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant opened a $600 million expansion of its casino, hotel, entertainment, and restaurants on August 6, 2021.
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Landon’s fascination with the casino industry began when he was just 12 years old and ultimately landed him in Las Vegas, where he earned a degree in hospitality management from University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). For over a decade, Landon has been involved in various aspects of the gaming industry, including operations, management, and supply & distribution.
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A seasoned gaming industry executive and expert in building, marketing, and monetizing gambling related technologies, Mike McKiski currently serves as President of MaxBet Media, Inc., the digital media upstart delivering an unfiltered, authentic, and at times irreverent look at the people who are driving the gambling industry forward.
As he was founding MaxBet Media, Inc., McKiski worked for PlayAGS, Inc. (NYSE: AGS) serving as the company’s Vice President of Sales, with revenue responsibility for the Western United States and all of Canada. Under McKiski’s leadership the revenue team doubled in size and grew revenues over 300%. He is a market transformation catalyst who has been at the forefront of launching mobile and social marketing products for hundreds of casino operators across the continent.