A Front-Runner in the Gaming Industry
Michael Kintner, UA Animal Sciences ’96 and Eller MBA ’13
Director of Marketing & Operations, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino
By Sue Kern-Fleischer
Michael Kintner likes to joke that he plays games for a living. As director of marketing and operations at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino in Maricopa, Arizona, Kintner is responsible for all aspects of marketing and casino operations including database marketing, casino marketing, advertising, VIP events, promotions, entertainment, sales, public relations, bingo, keno, poker, slots, and table games.
Growing up as a proud military brat, the odds were in his favor that he’d someday become a Wildcat. His father, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, was stationed in Turkey, England, and Kansas, giving Kintner a well-rounded education, interest in history and a love of horses. At age 10, he began riding horses and competing in local horse shows in England. Then, while attending the University of Kansas, he started riding horses again for college credit.
“I leased and then owned a horse and decided I wanted to pursue some sort of career in an equine related field,” Kintner said. “My father had transferred from Kansas to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson and my sister and mother were both attending the University of Arizona. My mom encouraged me to check out the Race Track Industry program, and I transferred to UA the next semester.”
In December 1996, Kintner graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences from UA’s Race Track Industry program, the same program that 2015 Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert graduated from. In January 1997, he began working at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California in the marketing department and worked there for nearly nine years.
“I wanted to make the jump from horse racing to casino gaming and left Santa Anita to take a job at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino as the casino’s marketing manager,” he said. Within two years, Kintner was promoted to assistant director of marketing, and a year and a half later he was promoted to director of marketing.
In the meantime, he went back to UA to pursue his MBA – but not in Tucson.
“I chose the Executive MBA program at the Scottsdale campus because it best fit my busy schedule and was fairly close to where I live,” Kintner, a Chandler resident, said. “I wanted to grow my career with Caesars Entertainment and my boss and I felt that pursuing an MBA would give me the knowledge, skills, and experience required to pursue my career goals of being the general manager of a casino. The leadership, accounting, statistics, human resources, marketing, operations, and innovation courses were all extremely valuable and applied directly to my work on a daily basis.”
Kintner looks back at his Eller experience fondly. “The best part of the program was my cohort and the life-long friendships that were made during my time there.” Even after three years, he and one of his closest friends from the program were discussing a pricing issue recently and referenced the “gas station game” they played in Lehman Benson’s leadership class.
“Dr. Benson had a strong impact on the cohort and he really got us ready for what was ahead of us,” he said. “Our cohort spent countless hours together studying for accounting exams, (Jeff Shatzberg’s managerial accounting final should be illegal in 13 states!), and who could forget the great feeling it was when we completed Dr. Blanchard’s 10-K project! To help students understand accounting, he always started lectures by saying, ‘You start with some, you add some more, subtract what’s left, the rest is gone.’”
One of the highlights of his Eller experience was a trip with his cohort to Budapest, Hungary, Vienna, Austria, and Prague, Czech Republic. “It was an amazing trip where we visited with world-class companies, and thanks to a classmate who was a special agent with the FBI, we were able to visit the International Law Enforcement Agency facility,” Kintner recalled.
Almost all of the classes he took during his MBA program at Eller directly applied to his work in the casino industry.
“I was able to better understand the finer points of accounting, human resources, and operational management and immediately apply what I learned at work,” he said, adding that he also was able to work with Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino’s Human Resources department to create a development program for high-potential supervisors where they learned everything from leadership to critical thinking and finance. “That idea came directly out of my learning summary for Dr. Benson’s leadership course,” he said.
Within four months of graduating from UA Eller with his MBA, Kintner was promoted to director of marketing and operations and has been in that position for more than a year and a half. “I do believe the knowledge and skills I learned throughout the program helped get me promoted,” he said.
A diehard Wildcat fan who often attends UA football, basketball and baseball games, Kintner cherishes his free time with his wife, Amanda, two sons, Mason and Chase, and their two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Oakley and Kyah.
“Being able to continue to be a proud Wildcat near home was the best choice I could have made,” he said. “The knowledge, skills, experience and most importantly, friendships I made during my time at Eller, will be something I treasure for the rest of my life.”
Top photo of Michael Kinter, his wife Amanda, and their sons by MBC Photography.