Homegrown hall of famer has seen, played a hand in Vegas gaming's evolution

Vegas Inc
Homegrown hall of famer has seen, played a hand in Vegas gaming's evolution
Super Slots

Tom Mikulich began working in the Las Vegas hospitality industry as a teenager as a desk clerk at his grandparents’ hotel on Fremont Street, the Ambassador.

In the decades since, he’s climbed up the industry ladder—working as an executive at the Mirage, Treasure Island and MGM Resorts International, among other roles—and is currently senior vice president of innovation for Station Casinos, where he’s overseen gaming innovation and slots for the company for about seven years.

“I grew up here in Las Vegas,” Mikulich said. “And so, really, I’ve seen the gaming industry proliferate all through the United States. Gaming was only in Nevada for many, many years, and then New Jersey, and then it was Mississippi—all the riverboat gaming—and then it just proliferated everywhere to almost every state … So, gaming has become a massive, massive industry.”

Last month, Mikulich was recognized for his tenure in the gaming industry with an induction into the EKG Slot Awards Hall of Fame, a 6-year-old institution created by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a market research and consulting firm.

The accomplishments of Mikulich and his fellow inductee—International Game Technology (IGT) founder William “Si” Redd, who was honored posthumously—were celebrated during an induction ceremony at the Cosmopolitan on the Strip.

Mikulich said he found all the attention a little overwhelming, adding that he’s not normally one to show up for industry events but is grateful his family urged him to do this one.

“It was kind of a walk down memory lane,” he told Vegas Inc. “You never stop learning. And I think the thing that I learned is that, ‘Hey, you’ve gotta go to these industry events and renew some old friendships … people that I’ve worked with over the years.’ And so, it was extremely emotional for me, actually.”

Todd Eilers, principal at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, said the firm began its EKG Slot Awards Show, which inducts two industry standouts annually, to fill a void in the market and provide an award focused on games and slot games.

The goal was to “make it like the Oscars of the gaming industry,” Eilers said. The event also recognizes excellence in slot games while giving industry executives an opportunity to get together to network and celebrate.

“And as part of that, we adopt two members into the Hall of Fame each year,” he said. “And one of those is under the game-development category, and the other is under the slot-operations category. So, Tom was inducted under the slot-operations category.”

It’s important in any industry to recognize those who have made a substantial contribution to improving that industry, Eilers said, whether through innovating new ideas, developing more leaders, or just growing your organization overall.

Mikulich didn’t get where he is by himself, he emphasized. He’s had the opportunity to work with a lot of smart people, he said, including leaders in gaming who helped lay the industry’s foundation.

“I was extremely lucky with the people that I’ve worked with, and a lot of them now are leading the industry … across the United States,” he said. “So, I’m really proud of the people that I’ve worked with and that’s how I got here. It wasn’t my doing—it was just working with all of them.”

This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.