Q+A: Michael Silberling:

CEO: Online gaming can co-exist with brick-and-mortar casinos

Michael Silberling, former president of international operations at Caesars Entertainment, is CEO of Affinity Gaming.

In 2014, Michael Silberling took over as CEO of Affinity Gaming, which operates 11 properties in four states, including three resorts in Primm and the Silver Sevens in Las Vegas. In Silberling’s 20 months on the job, the company has enjoyed 30 percent growth in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

What is the best advice you have received?

To paraphrase Voltaire: “Don’t let perfect get in the way of better.”

If you could change one thing about Southern Nevada, what would it be?

I’d like to see a professional sports team here.

What’s needed to make a gaming company successful?

You have to assemble the right team, market your business and deploy capital correctly. I’m a firm believer in the service profit chain. Positive employee morale and a consistently high-level of customer service will lead to repeat visitation, thereby increasing financial gains.

Where do you see the gaming industry in five years?

Wagering and gaming has been around since the dawn of time and will continue to be a huge economic force. Land-based facilities will stay profitable, as people inherently are social, while online gaming will continue to grow. The two are complementary and can coexist. We will start to see skill being incorporated into gaming. As demographics are changing and people are growing up with screens, a higher level of sophistication and interactivity will be needed to attract that audience.

What’s the most surprising trend you have seen in gaming?

The amount of money being made in social gaming where there is no ability to win anything of value.

What do you do after work?

I play tennis and enjoy the fine dining options Las Vegas has to offer.

Where do you see yourself and your company in 10 years?

Personally, I see myself moving more into community and charitable work. As an adopted child, I would like to help agencies and programs providing adoption resources and services. I’m passionate about being involved with local philanthropic efforts, and a big goal for Affinity Gaming is to continue expanding our efforts when it comes to corporate social responsibility.

What is your dream job?

When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming a running back for the San Francisco 49ers. Now, I wish I had the talent to be an author.

Whom do you admire?

In the industry, Phil Satre, former chairman of the board of Harrah’s Entertainment, and in business, Warren Buffett. Both have accomplished so much professionally, and I admire how they conduct themselves personally and in the community.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

At work, a lack of follow-through, and repetitive communication. If you told me once, I get it. Telling me the same thing five different ways won’t change my opinion. Bring me a new and original thought if you want a different decision.

Personally, I have no time for intolerant, bigoted and close-minded people.

Where do you like to go for business lunches?

I’m a huge fan of downtown and want to continue supporting a vibrant arts and entertainment district that offers options for locals to enjoy.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Being impatient. Patience is a virtue, and I wish I had more of it.

What is something people might not know about you?

I have traveled to 50 countries and played in two national rugby championship games, sadly losing both times. It’s probably a little-known fact that they even have a rugby championship game in the United States.