Australia pokies maker Aristocrat has lead the nation’s live and online manufacturing industry for decades now. The last eight years were especially productive under the reign of a supreme leader, Jamie Odell, who announced his resignation last week.
Odell has headed up the poker machine juggernaut for the last 8 years. Prior to that, he was the Managing Director of Foster’s, heading up their Australian and Asia Pacific divisions. He also served on the Board of the Winemakers Federation of Australia and held the Chairman’s seat for the Australian Brewers Association. Predating that role, Odell served as Regional Sales VP for Allied Domecq Duty Free.
The point is, Jamie Odell’s experience in heading up major operations is exceptional. His knowledge and leadership skills were a beacon at Aristocrat, where he raised the company out of a lingering slump that saw shares rise exponentially over his 8 year tenure.
The news that he will no longer be the CEO of the Australia pokies maker shook the firm to its core. And reasonably so, considering the current state of affairs.
Legal Issues for Aristocrat
Aristocrat is embroiled in a legal battle alongside Crown Resorts, defending claims that at some of its popular poker machines are granting an unfair advantage to the casino. The pokies in question, Dolphin Treasures and others like it, are infused with additional symbols that can only appear on the fifth reel.
Prosecutors have called the machines “rigged”, claiming that design alters the game’s true payout ratio beyond Australia’s legal limit.
Whether that situation has anything to do with the timing of Odell’s resignation is uncertain. He will evacuate his position as of February 2017, leaving what he’s deemed a worthy successor, Trevor Croker, in his place.
Croker To Take The Helm
“Trevor Croker is an outstanding leader who is widely respected both within Aristocrat and among our stakeholders, and will bring fresh perspectives to the role to drive the business forward,” said Odell in a statement.
Croker is also an 8-year member of the Aristocrat team, and coincidentally (or not) came over from Foster’s in 2009, alongside Odell.
Croker spent the first 7 years with the Australia pokies maker as Managing Director of the Australia and New Zealand markets. From September 2015 to February 2016, he held the interim position of Chief Digital Officer, before transitioning to Executive Vice President of Global Products and Insight. 10 months later, he finds himself filling the shoes of the company’s most important leader.
Oddly enough, Mr. Croker will not be based out of Australia, as all of Aristocrat’s former CEOs have been. It’s no secret the company is putting a much stronger focus on its North American sales, now operating approximately 28,000 poker machines in that region; a 20,000 surplus following the 2014 acquisition of Video Game Technologies (VGT).
Aristocrat experienced a phenomenal 66% hike in profits in the first half of 2016, raking in $183.2 million in 2016, up from $81 million in the time frame in 2015. The CEO noted the company has “significantly exceeded expectations”, which makes it all the more confusing as to why he’s chosen to leave it all behind.