Buffalo Thunder Resort, a combined project of the Pueblo of Pojoaque and Hilton Hotels Corporation, has had several staff changes.Duff Taylor has been named as executive director of gaming operations for Buffalo Thunder Casino;Mike Allgeierhas taken the role of general manager of the casino;Kelly Toscano has assumed the role of director of casino marketing; and the company also namedDavid Oakeleyas executive director of marketing.

Taylor’s new duties include managing all aspects of gaming, including casino floor operations, casino staff, security, revenues, promotions and the Lightning Rewards Player’s Club. Taylor brings more than 30 years of management, development and consulting experience in the gaming industry to his position at Buffalo Thunder Casino. He has opened numerous casinos in gaming markets around the United States, including the Fiesta Casino & Hotel in North Las Vegas and Hyatt’s Grand Victoria Casino & Hotel in Rising Sun, Ind. He is a former manager of Howard Johnson & Company, the River Palms Resort Casino in Laughlin, Nev. and was most recently the vice president of casino operations at the Crystal Palace Casino in Nassau, Bahamas. Additionally, Taylor was actively involved in bringing tribal gaming enterprises to California and Washington state in the early 90s.


Allgeier is responsible for overall management of the casino and will oversee all casino operations when the resort opens in August 2008. Allgeier brings nearly three decades of gaming experience to his position at Buffalo Thunder Casino. Most recently, he was vice president of casino operations for Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Prior to that, he was vice president of casino operations for the Las Vegas Hilton. Allgeier comes to Santa Fe from Las Vegas where he has lived for almost 30 years.

In her new capacity, Toscano will oversee marketing for the new casino and the existing Cities of Gold Casino and Sports Bar Race Book & Casino in Pojoaque. Her direct responsibilities include promotions, group sales, Player’s Club and player development. Prior to joining Buffalo Thunder Resort, Toscano held top-level marketing positions for leading clients in various industries and has nearly 15 years of experience in strategic planning, integrated marketing campaigns, creative direction and new business initiatives.

In his new position, Oakeley will oversee all marketing operations for Buffalo Thunder Resort Casino, Cities of Gold Casino and all other Pueblo of Pojoaque enterprises. Oakeley, a native New Mexican, has managed the marketing operations for Cities of Gold Casino and Hotel, the Sports Bar Race Book & Casino, Towa Golf Course and all Pueblo of Pojoaque-owned businesses since 2000. His background combines 30 years of experience in media and public relations, including 10 years in radio and television broadcasting. He is a former press secretary for the New Mexico Governor’s office and directed the marketing, promotions and in-house broadcast operations for the athletic department of New Mexico State University for nearly 10 years. Oakeley has also managed marketing, promotions, public relations, special events such as concerts and open-air market operation for the New Mexico State Fair.


Allen Karol

Cannery Casino Resorts LLC recently appointedAllen Karolto director of bingo operations. Karol joined the company in 2006 as bingo manager for Cannery Casino & Hotel. Prior to that, Karol served as director of poker operations for MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. Before that, Karol founded A.S. Karol Consulting Services where he performed market study and analysis of Las Vegas Poker Operations for Station Casinos and set up and maintained ongoing bingo operations at Palms Casino Resort. In addition, Karol served as a member of the Executive Leadership Committee in his position as director of associated gaming, overseeing the poker, bingo and keno operations for the Palace Station Hotel and Casino.

Lawrence Kovach

The Choctaw Resort Development Enterprise, a business enterprise of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, announced the appointment of financial veteranLawrence Kovachas the new chief financial officer of its resort portfolio, Pearl River Resort. Kovach will account for the overall financial operations of all the properties in the CRDE portfolio, including the Silver Star Hotel & Casino, Golden Moon Hotel & Casino, Geyser Falls Water Park and Dancing Rabbit Golf Club. With more than 40 years of experience, the last seven of which with a Tribal gaming organization, Kovach is a seasoned veteran of the financial and gaming industries.

John Prpich

Ellis Gaming & Entertainment LLC announced the recent addition of several new hires to the training development team. Ellis Gaming & Entertainment focuses on tribal gaming and economic development in the United States and holds both consulting and management agreements with a number of tribal organizations.

John Prpich has been appointed corporate director of human resources, training and development. His career spans more than 15 years and includes such high-profile organizations as McDonald’s Corporation and Ameristar Casinos. As director of training and development for Ameristar he implemented and facilitated culture orientation sessions for 1,400 employees while reducing turnover by 11 percent and increasing departmental goal achievement by 80 percent.

John MilliganandVickie Kolias have each been named to the position of director of training and development. A graduate of Temple University with a BA in Business Administration, Milligan began his casino career in 1995 working at Resort’s International Casino in Atlantic City. His leadership abilities were quickly recognized, prompting a move to the Foxwoods Casino for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation where he worked in both beverage management and later as a human resources training specialist. After 10 years with Foxwoods, Milligan was appointed director of human resources for the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma.

Kolias spent a decade with Ameristar Casinos and six years as training resource manager prior to joining Ellis Gaming. At Ameristar, she collaborated with training departments and strategic partners to analyze needs of the organization and set training objectives. She developed training materials, structured and validated courses and evaluated the effectiveness of courses.


Amber Babecki

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino announced the recent addition ofAmber Babecki to the Player Development Department. Babecki is the administrative assistant to Vice President of Player Development,Robert “Bobby” Smithand Director of Player DevelopmentJoe Cramutola. Previously, Babecki worked in the Administration Office at Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella and was the retail purchasing and administration manager for Marriott Resorts in Palm Desert.

Patricia Norman

MGM Mirage announced the appointment ofPatricia Normanas director of diversity relations. In her new role, she will assist with the implementation of the company’s diversity initiative and manage the numerous local and national strategic alliances that help the company satisfy its diversity business objectives. Prior to her appointment, Norman served as director of administration for the Corporate Diversity & Community Affairs department where she was responsible for overseeing human resources and diversity administration, including the development of training programs and budgets. She held that position since 2004.



Line Robichaud

The Gaming Standards Association has named software development expertLine Robichaudas the organization’s new educational director. In her new role, Robichaud will create and oversee GSA’s educational outreach programs, including its Executive Awareness Program and its Certified G2S/S2S Engineer Programs. Robichaud has been an active participant in GSA since 2003 and was chair of the Transport and G2S Committees. She comes to GSA with more than 18 years of experience in the software development industry, with her most recent focus being in the area of analysis and design of communication protocols. She was also with Spielo/GTECH as principal software analyst.

JoAnne Gipson

JoAnne Gipsonhas been named program manager of gaming management programs for Extended Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. She replaces Connie Rehard, who retired in March 2008 after serving more than 20 years in the position. Gipson has worked within Extended Studies and the gaming management program for five years and has extensive experience in program coordination, business administration and human resources. In her new position, Gipson will oversee financial and program administration, and help identify increased opportunities for serving the gaming industry with management training and other educational offerings.


Jay Pierson

Gary Platt Manufacturing has hiredJay Piersonfor the position of vice president of operations. Pierson comes to Gary Platt with 16 years experience in the gaming industry. Prior gaming experience included managing field service, manufacturing and quality assurance divisions. He spent the last six years with Sierra Design Group which was acquired by Bally Technologies. He then left Bally as director of public gaming/strategic alliances to join the Gary Platt team. His new duties will include running all aspects of the day-to-day manufacturing operations.

Michael Brodsky

Youbet.com Inc. recently announced its board of directors has appointed Chairman of the BoardMichael Brodskyas its new president and chief executive officer. Brodsky, who will retain the chairman title, will replace interim CEOGary W. Sproule, who is resigning from the company. As a result of this appointment and in compliance with NASDAQ director independence rules, Brodsky has resigned as a member of the Audit Committee. DirectorJay Pritzkerwill assume his place on the committee. Brodsky joined the Youbet.com board as a director in June 2007 and became chairman in February 2008. He has been the managing partner of New World Opportunity Partners, a public equity investment firm, since June 2005.


Peter Fordham

The Red Hawk Casino announced thatPeter Fordhamhas been named general manager. Fordham has more than 30 years of experience in the gaming and hospitality industry, specializing in the management of large-scale, full-service Native American-owned casinos. He comes to the Red Hawk Casino from S & K Gaming LLC, a tribally chartered entity owned by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of northwest Montana, where he served as principal operating officer.