Meet the Manager: Sean Holden

New to the Golden Nugget, but certainly not new to the industry, is Director of Casino Operations Sean Holden, who joined the team in October.
Holden has been in various positions in the casino industry for more than 30 years, after making a move to the Las Vegas area from his hometown in Texas.
“I grew up just outside of Corpus Christi and my entire family was in the seafood industry,” Holden said. “My grandfathers were commercial fisherman and my father owned a fish house. That was my entire background until I turned 21, then I loaded up the old Cadillac and moved to the desert.
“My dad was pretty much a wholesaler for seafood, and he had a customer out here that said, ‘hey if any of your sons ever want to come out and try to make it in Vegas just let me know.’ So I basically just took him up on that offer and he got me an interview and they taught me how to deal blackjack. So that’s how I got started, was in table games.”
His first job dealing cards was at Railroad Pass in Henderson, Nevada. The property was part of Gold Strike Resorts, which owned four other casinos in Nevada. Holden moved around between the properties until landing back at Railroad Pass in his first management position.
“I did a five-year stint as a manager in the pit, and at the time, Railroad Pass was testing a player tracking system. My friend was the slot director and I would go in and help him with all of the testing requirements for gaming. So when he got transferred to the Edgewater in Laughlin, they needed somebody to take over in slots, but since we were doing this testing on this new system, they wanted somebody that knew the system and the only one who knew it was me. So that’s how I got into slots altogether.”
For the next 15 years, Holden continued to bounce back and forth among the Gold Strike properties, as slot director and later acting director of operations. In 2015, a new owner bought the properties and he decided it was time for him to make a move as well.
“After that I took a big leap and went back to MGM and moved to Mississippi,” Holden said. “So the wife and I packed up and moved in March of 2016 and then in October of 2016, my former general manager of Gold Strike called me and offered me the position of general manager at Club Fortune Casino in Henderson. I started at Club Fortune in late October, so I literally moved across country twice in the same year.”
When Club Fortune was later sold, Holden had a clear picture of the position he wanted next.
“I wanted to be able to go somewhere that fit my personality. I wanted a place that still had some local clientele, where you can have that personal relationship with your customers,” he said. “I wanted a place where I could matter the most, not only to me but to everybody there. I didn’t want to go get a job on the Strip where I just had to do what everybody else had done for the last 15 years. I wanted to go somewhere where I could make an impact on the business, on the people and on the employees. And I felt that Golden Nugget was the place to do that.”
So when he got a call that the casino operations position was available, he applied right away and made a trip to Laughlin.
“I went online and applied for the job and drove down here the same day and walked around to get a feel for the place, the employees and the customers,” Holden said. “I just kind of watched and decided this was a good place to be.”
He got the job and took over operations of slots, table games, live keno and the race and sports book at the Golden Nugget. He was eager to start making an impact in his new position right away, and he does that by building a strong team culture.
“I like to impact people more than anything else,” he said. “I’m one of those types of people who like to share the knowledge that I have because I want everyone who works with me to grow. So if you are a slot floor person now, we want to push you to the point where you can become a supervisor, and then a manager some day. I like to build a good team and the more you can teach them, the better off they are going to be.
“I have two major rules: always do the right thing, no matter if it bends a rule. Always do the right thing by the company and the customer. And the second is always find a way to say ‘yes.’ If somebody comes up and asks you for something and you just tell them, ‘no,’ it’s not good enough for me. If it’s something you know that you can’t do for them, find an alternative. Don’t just say no.”
His biggest challenge is finding ways to improve even more on past successes.
“The biggest challenge is how do you outperform yourself month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year,” Holden said. “Say we had a banner year in 2019, ok what are we going to do to improve that in 2020? I mean you poured your heart into one year and then you have to rip a piece of it out and rebuild it to see if you can improve going forward. It’s the age-old question, ‘how do you make more money?’ You work through that challenge with the team. You know, let’s throw something out there and see what sticks. The best way to overcome anything is to ask advice.”
And Holden credits his team for their care and loyalty to the property.
“Golden Nugget is a great place to come to because it’s a great atmosphere and the employees are very personable and very friendly,” he said. “There are a lot of employees who have been here for 30 years plus, which tells me a lot about them. I mean they care about this place and they care about the customers. They know all the locals by name — it’s a great thing. I haven’t been here long enough to know everybody like they do, but eventually I’ll get there.”