Nailon Opens Casino Consulting Firm

Gerry Nailon, a long-time casino industry veteran, and his wife Kathleen Innaurato, have opened the gaming and hospitality industry consulting firm PeopleChamps. Nailon has worked at casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Kansas City, Iowa and Connecticut. The company will offer executive recruitment, placement and other services, focusing on smaller, tribal operations.

Casino industry veteran Gerry Nailon and his wife Kathleen Innaurato recently opened PeopleChamps, a consulting firm offering executive recruitment, placement and other services to the gaming and hospitality industries, in Mystic, Connecticut. Nailon holds the title of president and chief executive officer and Innaurato is executive vice president and chief organizational development officer at PeopleChamps. Larry Johnson, a 28-year gaming industry executive, was named chief operating officer, and Chickasaw Nation member Bradley Bledsoe Downes was named chief counsel. “Most of the problems people in the gaming industry come across today, we’ve touched. Most of the jobs in a casino one of us has actually done. We know what it takes,” Nailon said.

After earning a degree in hotel administration from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Nailon interned at Caesars Palace where he became a table-games dealer in 1980 and eventually became a pit boss. Returning East, he worked in management at Atlantic City casinos and then for Mississippi-based Casino Magic for whom he helped to open the first two private casinos in Greece. Nailon then worked at casinos in Kansas City, Missouri and in Iowa, then at Foxwoods Casino resort in Connecticut, operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. Most recently, he served as chief executive officer at Elk Valley Casino in Crescent City, California. “I’ve had a crazy career,” said Nailon, PeopleChamps, who has held gaming licenses in 16 jurisdictions.

Innaurato served as director of workforce preparedness for the Mashantucket Tribe from 1999 through 2005. Nailon joined the tribe in 2000 and worked as director of employment, staffing and recruitment until 2003. He also mentored tribal members who sought to move into leadership positions at Foxwoods and the Mashantuckets’ other enterprises.

Nailon said PeopleChamps is more interested in helping casino operators, particularly tribal governments, operate their own enterprises, rather than in securing management contracts. “In tribal governments, self-sufficiency, self-determination is the key. We understand that.” he said. Nailon said he expects the firm’s clients to be smaller casino companies.

“Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods were built as destinations. But things are different now. Be careful what you build because biggest is not always best. I would advise anyone to build something that will make money right out of the box, then expand as needed,” he said.