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Well Suited

Mike Kintner Leads Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino With Color, Care and Character

Michael Kintner leads a colorful life, literally and figuratively.

“I was an Air Force brat growing up and moved all over, including to England. There, I fell in love with riding horses,” says Kintner. “I was so into horses that while in college at the University of Kansas, I convinced my parents to let me take a ‘horsemanship’ course they offered.”

Since he rode all over the world, he figured the class would be a chance to show off, to girls and otherwise.

“But rather than show off, I got more into the education, which opened my eyes to the racing industry,” says Kintner.

Around the same time he was in Kansas, Kintner’s family moved to Tucson, where his mother had started back to school herself—at the University of Arizona—as did his sister. While visiting them, he discovered that the school had its own nationally recognized Race Track Industry Program.

“I transferred to the University of Arizona immediately,” he says. “While still staying close to the horses, I learned the intricacies of business and management. There I met my Wildcat-loving wife, Amanda, so in the long-run, horses helped me get not only a girl, but the girl.” 

After graduation, Kintner took a position at the famed Santa Anita Park, a Thoroughbred racetrack in California in 1997.

“This opened my eyes to a whole different world: hospitality,” says Kintner. “Talk about a horse of a different color, every single day.”

Enthralled, Kintner set himself on a path to make the industry his long-term career.

“In 2005, I moved to Chandler to take the next step in my career, joining the marketing and operations team at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino in Maricopa. Harrah’s is Arizona’s first and only tribal casino to have an international management partner,” says Kintner.

This “next step” ended up his forever home.

“Both Harrah’s and Chandler embraced us and our family as it grew,” says Kintner, today a father of two sons, Mason and Chase. “Working as the management partner for the Ak-Chin Indian Community has been one of the highlights of my professional career.”

Over the past 15-plus years, Kintner has worked with Harrah’s to not only employ but empower thousands of team members, including several from the Ak-Chin Indian Community. Through its Harrah's Development System, for example, members of the Community are integrated into key areas of the casino operation, with the goal of long-term employment opportunities. Kintner has also actively supported the company’s CodeGreen initiative, an effort to raise awareness around environmental conservation as well as the health and wellness benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle, and HERO, the employee-based volunteer program in which Harrah’s staff and their families make contributions to the community. Beyond even this, Kintner was part of the leadership team that recently completed a multi-million dollar expansion to the property, including an additional 230 guest rooms, a spa, a conference center with increased ballroom space, additional restaurants, and a multi-level parking structure.

During this same time, Kintner—today known around the property for his bevy of colorful suits that keep fellow team members and guests alike smiling—also found time to get his family involved in the local community, volunteering together for organizations including United Blood Services, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, United Way, Meals on Wheels, American Cancer Society, Feed My Starving Children, and First Things First.

“I was so inspired by the work of First Things First, that when the opportunity to join their Regional Partnership Council, I jumped at the chance,” he says. 

So what’s next for the busy family man?

“A few months ago, I was privileged to be named senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino,” says Kintner. “It’s a real honor to work for the Ak-Chin Indian Community and to fill the shoes of those who have come before me. My predecessors played an integral part in making Harrah’s Ak-Chin what it is today—a property rooted in tradition and culture that has been able to set an example of what is possible when a team is fully committed to working together to build something great.”

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