Osage Casinos CEO Kimberly Pearson Says Gaming Industry Smart to Promote Women

By | January 17, 2023

Osage Casinos CEO Kimberly Pearson hopes her recent appointment sets off a flurry of other females working in the commercial and tribal gaming industries being promoted to C-level positions.

Osage Casinos Kimberly Pearson female CEO
Kimberly Pearson is the new CEO of Osage Casinos. The Oklahoma gaming operator runs seven tribal casinos in the state. (Image: Tulsa World/Casino.org)

Osage Casinos owns and operates seven casinos in Oklahoma on behalf of the Osage Nation. The tribe’s portfolio includes Osage casinos in Tulsa, Bartlesville, Sand Springs, Ponca City, Skiatook, Hominy, and Pawhuska.

The company operates approximately 3,825 slot machines across the seven properties. The bulk is at the firm’s flagship venue — Osaka Casino Tulsa — where 1,600 terminals sit. Tulsa is the only Osage casino that offers table games.

Pearson was named chief executive of Osage Casinos last month. Her appointment came after Byron Bighorse resigned following eight years at the helm.

Women Wanted

Speaking with Tulsa World, Pearson said casinos and gaming companies would be wise to place more women in leadership roles.

“It may sound simple, but women have to demand their place at the table,” Pearson answered when asked about women only accounting for about 10% of all Fortune 500 CEOs.

If you have a high-performing woman working full-time in your office and has a family at home, you should ask her what her to-do list looks like every day. The volume of tasks and logistics women manage every day is astounding. Women are doing more than you know, day in and day out,” Pearson said.

“Seek [women] out in your organization, give them a chance, and they will grow businesses. We have so many talented, strong Osage women in our tribe, and I see them stepping up every day to make a difference,” Pearson added.

Pearson is an Osage native. Her great-grandmother, Rose Osage, was an original allottee. She is the first female CEO of Osage Casinos, a position more than 14 years in the making.

Pearson worked in banking at Nelnet and the Bank of Oklahoma before joining Osage Casinos. She worked her way up through the gaming organization, with company officials crediting her for significantly growing revenue in her most recent capacity as chief operations officer.

“Mrs. Pearson has played a critical role in the success of the enterprise over the last several years, and as the first female CEO, it is a tremendous point of pride for us and we look forward to continued momentum under the leadership of Mrs. Pearson,” said Geoff Hager, chairman of the tribal gaming board. “Our board’s priority has always been — and will continue to be — to provide critical funding for the Osage Nation.”

Female Gaming CEOs a Rarity

The US gaming industry, including tribal and commercial interests, has improved its diversity leadership makeup in recent years. But the industry still has a way to go in order to catch up to other major sectors in the US.

In Atlantic City, the second-most important gaming market in the US behind Las Vegas, the tide has recently gone in the wrong direction.

In the fall of 2020, four of Atlantic City’s nine casinos were led by women. But today, no female is a chief executive or general manager of any of the nine resorts.

There are, however, several women leading marquee casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and elsewhere.

Eileen Moore is the regional president for Caesars Entertainment overseeing The Flamingo, The Linq, and Cromwell. Marilyn Spiegel is the president of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, while Melonie Johnson is president and CEO of MGM National Harbor near the nation’s capital.

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