Tenacious, charming and innovative, gaming industry leader Gordon Thomas Graves, 84, passed away peacefully at his residence in Harrisburg, IL on September 21, 2021.
Graves graduated from the University of Texas in 1959 and received his MBA from the University of Texas in 1971. He was an electrical engineer who would later design a machine that helped pave the way for tribal gaming’s success.
Graves provided the initial financing and founded Multimedia Games in 1990, before becoming CEO from 1994 to 2003. A supplier of interactive systems, electronic games and gaming terminals for the Indian gaming market, as well as for the racetrack, casino, charity/commercial bingo and video lottery markets, the company sold for $1.2 billion to Global Gash Access in 2014 (rebranded as Everi Holdings).
Over a long and storied career in gaming, Graves was the first to accomplish many things, including utilizing microcomputer technology to operate online computer networks for lotteries; linking slot games at IGT and creating progressive jackpots with life-changing jackpots (Quarter Mania and Mega Bucks); introducing player-activated terminals for in-store lottery sales; using satellite technology to link tribal bingo halls; creating and operating the high-stakes MegaBingo game with a million-dollar jackpot; and creating an all-electronic bingo game, designed to be compliant with Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) regulations, called MegaMania.
Graves envisioned Indian Nations using technology to link bingo games and create larger prizes to draw more participation. He lobbied Congress during the creation of IGRA to allow technological aids in the play of bingo. He led and financed the legal fight to defend modern Class II gaming from the DOJ prosecutorial efforts, spurred on by the NIGC, to shut down electronic bingo games, as the NIGC had not fully embraced the use of technological aids provided by IGRA. The rule of law prevailed.
Through the Graves Foundation, Graves gave large donations each year to worthy charities. He was a proud fifth generation Texan with roots in Crowell and Austin, but took Harrisburg, IL to his heart, and loved being part of the small community. Graves loved his family, had a passion for travel, and in his later years, became an avid golfer. He also enjoyed a poker group and book club. With his smile, he charmed everyone. He was an honest, hardworking and loyal gentleman.
He is survived by his wife Linda Graves, four children, two step children, seventeen grandchildren, numerous great grandchildren, and brother, Bill Graves.