The guessing game has begun as industry insiders ponder Isaacs’ next move By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports December 18, 2018 at 9:34 pm On the same day gaming executive Gavin Isaacs changed his LinkedIn profile job status to ‘TBA,’ Scientific Games filed a one sentence statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission announcing his resignation as vice chairman of the gambling equipment provider’s board. That’s one way to grab the industry’s attention, although that’s never really been a problem for Isaacs. Once again, in the eyes of the gaming world, Isaacs is on the beach awaiting his next assignment, like an Australian version of James Bond. Isaacs is under six feet tall, but his personality is at least double that stature. “I love Vegas. I love gaming, and I’ll be back,” Isaacs said last week after news of his exit from Scientific Games became known. He left the company’s C-suite in 2016 but retained a consultant’s contract that expires on New Year’s Eve. Isaacs, 54, will have another reason to lift a glass of champagne that night. Since the late 1990s, the Australian native and attorney has held top level roles with some of gaming’s largest equipment providers. With Aristocrat and Bally Technologies, Isaacs steered the manufacturers into new products and markets. He served as CEO at both SHFL entertainment and Scientific Games, putting his unique stamp on the companies. He changed Shuffle Master’s corporate name to SHFL to better highlight the company’s numerous table game entertainment products and not just keep the focus on its various casino management systems. He engineered the $1.3 billion sale of SHFL to Bally in 2013 and headed to his second home in Hawaii. Soon, however, billionaire Ron Perelman, the chairman and largest shareholder of Scientific Games, came calling. Perelman bought out the remaining months of Isaacs’ non-compete clause with Bally and brought him in to consult. Three months later, he was named CEO; a month after that, Scientific Games acquired Bally for $5.1 billion. He spent a couple years as Scientific Games’ CEO before departing; the only blemish in the eyes of Wall Street was the company’s $8.7 billion debt, which is still on the manufacturer’s books. His resume could be a career for some. Not for Isaacs. He strikes you as someone who is all business, but often has fun in an industry based on fun. Bally’s quarterly earning conference calls doubled as vaudeville. When then-CEO Richard Haddrill would turn the call over to his chief operating officers – Isaacs for games and India-native Ramesh Srinivasan for systems – Isaacs had a captive audience. In his familiar Australian accent, he often joked that he and Srinivasan – who speaks with a heavy Indian accent – were twin brothers. Isaacs knows how to command a room, but he also knows how to run a company. That’s why there is tremendous industry buzz over his next move. For fun, let’s speculate. The probable landing spots are any of several gaming equipment manufacturers or a gaming technology company. Years ago, Isaacs was rumored to be headed to troubled International Game Technology. But the company has since been sold to Italy-based GTech Holdings (in 2014, for $6.4 billion) and new management seemingly has the company on a steady course. Smaller companies, such as Everi Holdings, have stirred speculation. Everi board member Mike Rumbolz stepped into the CEO role in 2016 and turned the company’s prospects in the right direction. According to some insiders, however, Rumbolz might want to re-take a board position, which would open the CEO seat for Isaacs. With legal U.S. sports betting continuing its expansion, several international technology companies see opportunity in the market. Isaacs could bring them along. The fantasy prediction is Caesars Entertainment. CEO Mark Frissora announced plans to leave the casino giant on Feb. 8, but the search process has slowed. Isaacs is now available. He’s never run a casino giant, but then again, Frissora joined Caesars after steering the rental car giant Hertz. Wherever Isaacs ends up, it’s fair to assume headlines and attention will follow. During a 2014 appearance at the Nevada Gaming Commission on behalf of Scientific Games, Isaacs wore custom-made SHFL-branded cufflinks. SHFL had recently been bought by Bally; Bally would soon become part of Scientific Games. In a way, all three of his most recent employers were represented on his cuffs. Isaacs smiled a playful grin when an observer caught the connection. Gaming analysts have long said Isaacs is up for any challenge. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.