Illinois Native Kristensen Named One of the Gaming Industry’s 25 People to Watch In 2024

When most people envision the gambling and casino industry, the image that often comes to mind is one of men, surrounded by a haze of cigar smoke, celebrating their big wins at the poker table or craps game. It’s true that historically, the gambling industry has been male-dominated, both in terms of players and professionals. 

It hasn’t helped that for years, the gambling industry has spread the stereotype of the smooth, confident male gambler, who’s often portrayed as the epitome of success and sophistication. From James Bond’s iconic scenes at the baccarat table to the flashy advertisements featuring men victoriously holding handfuls of casino chips, the message has always been clear: that gambling is a man’s world.

More women are now entering this space

However, times are changing, and more and more, women are making their mark in this traditionally masculine sector. Contrary to popular belief, women have always been enthusiastic participants in casino games, from blackjack to roulette to poker. 

While they may not always be in the spotlight, women make up a substantial portion of casino customers not just in the US but also worldwide. Furthermore, there is a growing recognition of female talent in professional poker tournaments, where women have consistently proven their skill and competitiveness against their male counterparts.

For instance, during last year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP) close to 10,000 poker players turned up in the hopes of becoming the next big poker champion. Of these thousands of poker pros, a huge majority were women, many of whom walked away with massive stacks. Some of these notable players include Shelby Wells, Brittney Stout, Stephanie Wang, and Tracey Nguyen.

Over the last couple of years, we have also noticed a gradual shift in the industry’s landscape, with more women entering traditionally male-dominated roles such as dealers, pit bosses, and even casino managers. This variation not only reflects a more inclusive and progressive approach to hiring but also brings the fresh perspectives and skills of female casino workers to the table.

You will also notice more women rising to top executive positions within major gambling corporations and organizations. These women are not only leading major corporations but are also driving innovation, shaping industry trends, and influencing decision-making at the highest levels. 

Women are also occupying more executive positions

From CEOs to CFOs to CMOs, female executives are proving that they have the skills, expertise, and vision to excel in leadership roles. One example of female leadership in the gambling industry is the appointment of women to CEO positions in prominent gaming companies. 

These women bring a wealth of experience and insight to their roles, steering their organizations toward success in a highly competitive market. One such female executive is Danielle Kristensen, who has been making waves in the gaming industry which has earned her recognition as one of the key figures to watch in 2024.

Serving as the vice president of technology for Mille Lac Corporate Ventures, Kristensen brings a wealth of expertise and leadership to her role. Originally from Illinois, she is also a proud member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Tribe, adding to her unique perspective and influence within the industry.

Danielle was recently included in the Global Gaming Business’ 25 People to Watch In 2024 list. This inclusion underscores her rising profile and the impact she is poised to make in the coming year. Her leadership in technology, particularly within the gaming sector, highlights the growing recognition of women’s contributions to shaping the future of the industry.

A graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Kristensen brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as the vice president of technology at Mille Lac Corporate Ventures (MLCV). Based in the Chicago suburbs, she oversees a wide array of projects spanning networking, security, systems engineering, and more. 

Her leadership at MLCV, the business sector of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribe, underscores her commitment to driving innovation and excellence within the organization. With flagship properties like Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley in Minnesota, MLCV is well-positioned to capitalize on opportunities in the gaming industry.

While the legalization of online casinos in Illinois has yet to gain serious momentum, Kristensen’s strategic vision and expertise position her as a key player when the time comes. Her dedication to advancing technology and embracing new opportunities underscores her importance in shaping the future of gaming.

Another powerful female executive that has been making waves for decades is Denise Coates who stands as a titan in the gambling industry. Renowned for her unparalleled success, commanding power, widespread influence, and enduring tenure, Coates reigns as the undisputed queen of the realm. 

Denise Coates’ journey to becoming the CEO of Bet365 is nothing short of remarkable. Her name is not merely a footnote but a pivotal cornerstone in discussions about women thriving in traditionally male-dominated sectors.

Born into a family deeply entrenched in the gambling industry, she leveraged her background and education to carve out her own path to success. With a degree in econometrics from the University of Sheffield, Coates possessed a solid foundation in statistical methods applied to economic data, a skill set that would prove invaluable in her future endeavors.

Together with her father and siblings, Coates embarked on a bold venture, transforming the domain into a powerhouse in the global gambling landscape. Armed with borrowed funds from the family’s network of betting shops, she steered the company to unprecedented heights, establishing it as one of the largest privately owned gambling entities in the world

Today, Coates commands an empire that handles a staggering $45 billion in bets annually, a testament to her visionary leadership and strategic acumen. With an estimated personal fortune of $4.5 billion, she stands as a formidable force in both the business and gambling spheres. 

In 2020, her jaw-dropping salary of $485 million surpassed that of all FTSE 100 CEOs combined, highlighting her status as a female trailblazer in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

Final Thoughts

From C-suite roles to upper management positions, women are breaking through the glass ceiling and making their mark in this traditionally male-dominated field. As the gaming landscape continues to evolve, individuals like Danielle Kristensen and Denise Coates serve as catalysts for much-needed change and innovation in the gambling sector.