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Hard Rock Hotel & Casino At Fire Mountain Names New Executive Leaders

George Miller

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Hard Rock Hotel & Casino At Fire Mountain Names New Executive Leaders
Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain, slated to become the premier entertainment destination in Northern California once open in fall of 2019, announces its team of top-tier executives.

“We are excited to have a great mix of passionate industry leaders joining our Hard Rock Sacramento family,” said Mark Birtha, president of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain. “Some are new to the brand and some are seasoned veterans, but most important is that we have an enthusiastic executive team with over 150 years of collective experience working together to develop and operate what will become a top gaming, entertainment and hospitality venue that provides ‘authentic experiences that rock’ in Northern California.”

Kicking off the property’s new executive team, the vice president of financeChristopher Balaban, is a numbers savvy-guru with over 20-years of gaming experience. Balaban possesses a successful track record of delivering results and value through strategic direction and financial operations leadership. Most recently, he held VP finance positions with Affinity Gaming and Penn National Gaming in the Las Vegas and mid-west regional markets. Additionally, Balaban has held positions with Seminole Gaming in South Florida and Kerzner International in Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Balaban also led hotel and F&B operations, developing a diverse operational background. He has an MBA from Florida Atlantic University and a BS from the University of South Florida.

Joining as vice president of human resourcesRyan Flieger, has been with the Hard Rock brand since 2012, holding leadership roles at both Hard Rock Hotel San Diego and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, Flieger successfully led a five-year initiative to redefine the property’s mission and core values, while increasing team member engagement to an all-time high. Flieger also played a lead role in talent acquisition, pre-opening training and culture setting for several Hard Rock Hotel expansions. Prior to joining the Hard Rock team, he spent nearly a decade with MGM Resorts where he helped guide the company’s award-winning diversity training initiative and MGM University. During his career, he’s been credited with leading successful internal cultural transformations and greatly improving talent retention. Flieger has been honored with several recognitions for his effective training programs and facilitation, including “Best Overall Trainer,” “Young Trainer to Watch” and was included in a “40 under 40” list of influential Las Vegas professionals.

A native of Las Vegas, Anika Gaskins serves as the vice president of marketing for the new property. An industry veteran, Gaskins has more than 17 years of experience, most recently opening the $1 billion MGM Resorts Springfield casino property as the vice president of national marketing where she was responsible for all loyalty and casino marketing initiatives. She has also held VP of marketing positions with Penn National Gaming, where she developed and executed marketing strategies and led efforts to increase revenue. Prior to joining Penn National Gaming, Gaskins held various marketing positions with Caesars Entertainment on the Las Vegas Strip and Caesars Windsor in Canada. She received her bachelor’s in economics from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA from Simmons College in Boston.

A casino executive with close to four decades of experience, the new vice president of table games, Paul Mollo, has been with the Hard Rock family since 2008, where he helped usher in the introduction of class 3 table games in Florida. He now joins the team in Sacramento, California. His management philosophy necessitates creating and maintaining a professional work culture that is built on a foundation of trust, respect, confidence and support. Mollo has worked with several gaming companies over the years to open properties, including Harrah’s, Trump Plaza and Borgata in the Atlantic City market. In addition to his table games role, he assisted HBO Productions with casino gaming aspects on “The Sopranos” and was even cast for several extra spots and one speaking role.

The vice president of IT, Matthew Morgan, brings more than 20 years of gaming industry technology experience from the Northern California, Las Vegas and Midwest markets. Morgan’s wealth of expertise in IT strategy, combined with the application of technical innovation, brings both operational efficiency and product differentiation to each property he leads at. Most recently, Morgan served as the chief information officer at The D Las Vegas, where he was responsible for two casino/hotel properties and technical operations of an 11,000-person entertainment venue. He also served as a vice president at Red Hawk Casino, PlayerSoft Technologies and Thunder Valley Casino.  Morgan’s focus over the last decade has been to bring mobile products to the casino market to solve common hospitality-industry problems. In May 2019, he will graduate with an MBA from Southeast Missouri State.

Will Provance serves as the vice president of slot operations and has spent more than 20 years in the hospitality industry, working in operational and leadership roles ranging from restaurants, entertainment, hotel operations and casino gaming. Starting at Station Casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada as a corporate slot analyst, he participated in their Management Development Program and worked his way up to director of slot and ancillary gaming operations at Sunset Station. From there, he was recruited by Mark Birtha to run the VLT (Slot) Operations at Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park, Ohio’s No. 1 ranked gaming facility. He was interviewed and featured as a contributor in David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research’s book “Tales from the Slot Floor: Casino Managers in Their Own Words” and was named to the Emerging Leaders of Gaming’s “40 Under 40.”  Provance has a Master of Science degree in hotel administration with a focus in gaming from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, an MBA in international hotel and tourism management from Schiller International University and an executive certificate from Cornell University in customer-driven marketing.

Kaywan Samadani is the vice president of hospitality. His career began in 1990 at Caesars as a room chef at Harvey’s in his hometown of Lake Tahoe. During that time, Samadani opened two buffets, a steakhouse and a noodle bar, along with four casino bars and butler suites. He also assisted with the opening of Harrah’s Rincon (now Harrah’s Southern California) and the rebranding of the Rio in Las Vegas. In 2006, he relocated to Harrah’s St. Louis as director of F&B before being promoted to director of hospitality. Samadani also served as VP of casino services at Horseshoe Cleveland and Thistledown Racino. He moved to Cleveland in 2011, helping to open the property’s Beverage, Buffet, Culinary, Diamond Lounge and Slots operations.  Most recently, Samadani served as senior director of hospitality at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, where he opened the Mystic Lake Center, a 70,000 square foot convention space. Samadani attended Cabrillo College and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The property continues to build the employee team ahead of the fall 2019 opening and is expected to create more than 2,000 construction jobs upon its completion, with nearly 750 working at peak times on the project any given day. Upon opening, the property will employ over 1,000 full and part-time team members.  For more information, visit hardrockhotelsacramento.com.

 

About Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain:
Set to open in fall 2019, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain will feature the latest in live music and entertainment, hospitality, world-class gaming and exceptional cuisine. The property will be Hard Rock’s first Vegas-style casino in California and will offer a hotel with multiple suite options, a large gaming facility with more than 1,800 slot machine and table game positions, along with an outdoor pool and deck area, large meeting space and a vast selection of bars and restaurants. The property will also include signature brand amenities like the Sound of Your Stay® in-room music program, a Rock Shop® and a Body Rock® fitness center. Additionally, the project marks a historic partnership between two Native American Tribes – The Seminole Tribe of Florida, owners of Hard Rock International, and Enterprise Rancheria. Owners of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain property, the Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe of the Enterprise Rancheria is a sovereign Native American Nation offering diverse tribal government services and programs that improve the quality of life for its some 1,000 tribal citizens and surrounding communities in Northern California.

 

About Hard Rock International:

With venues in 75 countries, including 185 cafes, 27 hotels and 11 casinos, Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world’s most valuable collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe. Hard Rock is also known for its collectible fashion and music-related merchandise available in Rock Shops and online at https://shop.hardrock.com. HRI owns the global trademark for all Hard Rock brands including Hard Rock Live performance venues. The company owns, operates and franchises Cafes in iconic cities including London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Dubai. HRI also owns, licenses and/or manages hotel/casino properties worldwide. Destinations include the company’s two most successful Hotel and Casino properties in Tampa and Hollywood, FL., both owned and operated by HRI parent entity The Seminole Tribe of Florida, as well as other exciting locations including Atlantic City, Bali, Cancun, Daytona Beach, Desaru Coast, Ibiza, Orlando, Shenzhen and San Diego. Upcoming new Hard Rock Cafe locations include Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street in the United Kingdom, Kathmandu, Nepal, Kyoto, Japan and Chandigarh, India. New Hard Rock Hotel, Casino or Hotel & Casinoprojects include Amsterdam, Berlin, Budapest, Dublin, London, Los Cabos, Madrid, Maldives, New York City, Ottawa, Sacramento, Dalian and Haikou in China. In 2018, Hard Rock International was recognized as a Forbes Magazine Top Employer for Women and Land Operator of the Year at the Global Gaming Awards. For more information on Hard Rock International visit www.hardrock.com.

George Miller started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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Gambling in the USA

Legal Sports Betting Begins in New York Casinos

Niji Narayan

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Legal Sports Betting Begins in New York Casinos
Photo Source: sportsnet.ca
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

New York Casinos have started legal sports betting. Bettors placed their first wagers on pro sports games following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a ban on the practice last May. Gamblers at the Rivers Casino near Schenectady plunked down bets on the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and tennis phenom Varvara Lepchenko.

“We’re going to get mobile sports betting before the middle of next year, it just has to be, because right now New Jersey is cleaning our clock when it comes to sports betting. I think New York should always be at the forefront of everything and right now we’re a little bit behind them,” Assemblyman Gary Pretlow said.

Sports betting is expected to raise millions of dollars as tax revenue. But proponents say the state is losing out on millions more because bets can only be placed at four upstate casinos rather than online and via mobile phone as is allowed in New Jersey.

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Gambling in the USA

Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady Makes History with Opening of New Sportsbook Lounge

George Miller

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Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady Makes History with Opening of New Sportsbook Lounge
(L to R) Rush Street Gaming Co-Founder and CEO, Greg Carlin; Schenectady, New York Mayor, Gary McCarthy; Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady General Manager, Justin Moore
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

 Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady officially launched legal sports betting in New York State with the opening of its new Rivers Sportsbook lounge.

 

“We’re so proud to be the first gaming operator in New York to take legal sports bets,” said Rivers Casino & Resort Acting General Manager Justin Moore. “Many people worked very hard to make legal sports wagering a reality in New York State, and we thank all of them for their tireless efforts and dedication. Sports fans and bettors from across the Capital Region and beyond will be thrilled with our new state-of-the-art Rivers Sportsbook lounge. We look forward to having them as guests at Rivers Casino & Resort and the City of Schenectady.”

Casino representatives, guests, and area dignitaries gathered at Rivers Casino today to cut the ribbon on the state’s first legal sports betting location. Opening Day of the sportsbook also included appearances by Super Bowl Champion and former New York Giants punter, Sean Landeta; Pro-Bowl safety and former New York Jet, Erik Coleman; and World Series MVP, New York Yankee great, Bucky Dent.

“We couldn’t be happier for our great community partner Rivers Casino & Resort,” said Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy. “It is indeed an historic day not just for the state of New York, but for the City of Schenectady. As Rivers Casino grows, so does its positive impact on our community. The opening of Rivers Sportsbook will surely attract even more guests to the property and to our great city. Looking ahead, we are also hopeful that our leaders in Albany will see how hard Rivers Casino is working to keep up with growing regional competition and recognize how important it is for them to address structural tax disadvantages in the market.”

The new Rivers Sportsbook, which was designed by DMAC Architecture of Chicago, is a luxury sports lounge and occupies just over 5,000 square feet.  Club chairs and table seating accommodate approximately 80 guests and include five private booths with TV monitors – each accommodating up to 6 people. The lounge also includes18 individual VIP seats and 32 tabletop seats.

Rivers Sportsbook has an impressive state-of-the-art 53′ x 9′ LED video wall that anchors the sportsbook viewing area, along with 22 additional TV monitors. The sportsbook also includes 14 betting kiosks and 6 staffed betting windows to accommodate guests. Rivers Sportsbook is located directly off the casino’s main gaming floor – adjacent to Van Slyck’slounge.

Rivers Sportsbook will offer betting on a wide array of sporting events including professional football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, college sports and more. Bets are expected to include, but not be limited to, straight bets, parlays, totals, and in-game betting. Wagers can be placed at the betting counter with a live sportsbook writer during Rivers Sportsbook hours of operation or at a sports betting kiosk 24 hours a day.

Rivers Casino’s sports wagering supplier is Rush Street Interactive LLC (RSI), an award-winning gaming company that develops and operates real-money in-casino and online sportsbooks. Rush Street Interactive will bring the same high quality in-casino sportsbook solution to Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady as players in the state of Pennsylvania have been enjoying since 2018. RSI provides its in-casino sportsbook service to the top two performing retail sportsbooks in the state of Pennsylvania; Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia collectively account for over fifty-percent of all retail sportsbetting handle in the state since the market opened.

Recently recognized as the number one tourist destination in the Capital Region, the sportsbook lounge will complement the wonderful amenities already offered by Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady. Sports betters and fans alike will not only enjoy a world-class sports book, but they will also be able to experience top entertainment, premium dining, and  The Landing Hotel – Rivers’ luxurious riverfront hotel.

The Rivers Sportsbook hours of operation will be Monday – Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.; Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.; Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.; and Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., but are subject to change to accommodate athletic seasons.

There is a $5 minimum wager amount and all bets are cash only. Betting sheets with odds will be printed and available at Rivers Sportsbook. Must be 21 years of age or older to access the gaming floor and wager at Rivers Sportsbook.

 

ABOUT RIVERS CASINO & RESORT SCHENECTADY:
Located at the picturesque Mohawk Harbor near the heart of downtown Schenectady, Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady features 1,150 slots, 67 live table games and a 16-table poker room and a live, in-casino luxury sportsbook lounge.

The casino offers five distinctive restaurants—among them are Dukes Chophouse, Flipt, Johnny’s To-Go and Mian. Rivers features a multipurpose Event Center space, a lively entertainment lounge—Van Slyck’s, live music performances, free parking and daily promotions and giveaways.

The Landing Hotel is a 165-room, six-story boutique hotel with riverfront views located adjacent to the Event Center. Rivers, which opened in 2017, employs approximately 1,200 team members and has been voted a great place to work in Schenectady.

Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady is owned and operated by Rush Street Gaming and its affiliates. For more information, visit riverscasinoandresort.com

ABOUT RUSH STREET INTERACTIVE:
Rush Street Interactive (RSI) was founded by pioneers in the internet gaming industry with decades of collective experience in developing, supplying and operating online gaming sites. The Chicago-based business launched its first casino site, PlaySugarHouse.com in NJ, in September 2016 and made history in August 2018 as the first online operator in the United States to offer an integrated online sportsbook and casino.  Rush Street Interactive is also the service provider of the sportsbooks at Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia. RSI made history once again by next launching Pennsylvania’s first online sportsbook, PlaySugarHouse.com, and on its heels followed that with a second online sportsbook site, BetRivers.com.   

Additionally, RSI is the only U.S. gaming company to launch a regulated online sportsbook in Latin America. Rush Street Interactive is also the developer and operator of a leading social gaming platform that is currently deployed at Rush Street-affiliated casinos (Rivers Casino in PittsburghSugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois and Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady, New York), as well as selected third party partners.

Rush Street Interactive was named “Mobile Operator of the Year” in North America at the EGR North America Awards 2019 and “American Operator of the Year” & “Casino Operator of the Year” by Gambling.com for their inaugural American Gambling Awards in 2019.

 

Source: Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady

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Gambling in the USA

John James the New CEO and President of Foxwoods Resort Casino

George Miller

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John James the New CEO and President of Foxwoods Resort Casino
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Resort Casino Veteran Brings Over 25 Years of Native American Gaming Leadership to Foxwoods

 

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council announces tribal gaming executive John J. James has been named the new President and CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino. James currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Morongo Casino Resort & Spa located in Cabazon, California and will be taking the helm at Foxwoods beginning August 12.

James succeeds Felix D. Rappaport, whose untimely death in June of 2018 led to Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler taking over as the resort’s interim CEO shortly thereafter. With over 25 years of highly successful Native American gaming resort operations experience, James is uniquely positioned to lead Foxwoods into its next evolution as the premier entertainment destination in the Northeast. His expertise and vision will help build on Foxwoods’ solid foundation and maximize the tremendous growth opportunities that lie ahead.

“Over the past decade, Foxwoods transformed the traditional gaming model through a relentless pursuit of guest-first experiences resulting in the only true all-encompassing resort destination,” said Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler. “With his proven track record for innovation, John is the right leader to continue that commitment to our guests, fulfill our vision and ignite our passion for delivering a resort that excites and surprises. John perfectly represents our team’s values and beliefs, and we are ready to drive the future of Foxwoods together.”

James’ deep expertise across key business units including finance, innovative marketing and award-winning design and development allows him to take a “whole-brained” approach to growth and profitability.

“Foxwoods is the premier destination in the Northeast and a pioneer in the tribal gaming community, and I’m thrilled to be joining their stellar team,” said James. “Over the past 27 years, Foxwoods and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation have built a world-class resort casino with an unparalleled array of offerings for guests, and I look forward to working with the entire team to continue fortifying Foxwoods’ position as one of North America’s premier resort destinations.”

Prior to joining Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, James was Chief Executive Officer for Gila River Gaming Enterprises, Inc. where he led the tribe’s three casinos in achieving the highest recorded earnings in the State of Arizona. He also held chief executive roles at Seminole Gaming, Inc. and Pechanga Resort and Casino. Additionally, James served as a Vice President and General Manager for various successful Station Casinos properties in Las Vegas.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, James attended the University of Nevada where he graduated from the accounting program. As he assumes his new role at Foxwoods, he and his wife Giselle will be relocating to Mystic, Connecticut.

 

About the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation:
The Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation is a federally recognized Indian tribe located at one of America’s oldest Indian reservations, Mashantucket, in Southeastern Connecticut.  As pioneers of the Indian Gaming casino industry, the history of the Mashantucket Pequots reveals one of America’s greatest come-back stories, featured at the Tribe’s world renowned Mashantucket Pequot Museum. Today, the Tribe owns and operates one of the largest Integrated Resort Casino destinations in North America, Foxwoods Resort Casino, along with a variety of complementary businesses including a world-class golf course, luxury spa, Pequot Pharmaceutical Network, and Pequot Plus Health Benefit Services.  As one of Connecticut’s highest revenue contributors and largest employers, the Mashantucket Pequots have provided the state more than $4 billion in slot revenue through a first-of-its-kind agreement, established in 1993.  Likewise, the Tribe has contributed hundreds of millions in donations and sponsorships for the benefit of communities and tribes in need, locally and throughout the U.S.

About Foxwoods Resort Casino:
As the largest resort casino in North America, Foxwoods Resort Casino offers guests a premier destination resort experience throughout its six world-class casinos; AAA Four-Diamond hotels featuring over 2,200 rooms; dining options for all tastes; luxurious spas; award-winning golf; state-of-the-art theaters; Tanger Outlet Mall; conference space for groups of all sizes; and free online casino games at FoxwoodsONLINE.com. There is always something new at Foxwoods, most recently the arrival of Foxwoods Extreme Adventures. Adventure knows no limit as guests can zipline, free fall, catapult or race around on a European-style indoor karting track. Foxwoods Resort Casino truly is The Wonder Of It All, providing a personalized and exciting escape for everyone. Foxwoods, opened in 1992, is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. For a detailed look at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation visit Foxwoods.com.

 

Source: Foxwoods Resort Casino

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