Congratulations to the following casino industry professionals on their recent promotions and new appointments in their respective gaming organizations. This month, we highlight key gaming industry executives from AGA, Ainsworth Game Technology, Aristocrat Technologies, Canterbury Park, Gun Lake Casino, Konami Gaming, Live! Casino & Hotel, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, and Virgin Hotels.

» AGA

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has promoted three members of the its senior staff, reflecting an enhanced focus on industry modernization, communications and advocacy.

Dan Bretl will assume the position of senior vice president, strategy and operations;

Casey Clark will assume the position of senior vice president, strategic communications; and

Chris Cylke will assume the position of senior vice president, government relations.

Bretl, Clark and Cylke were previously vice presidents at the AGA and will be assuming greater responsibilities in their areas of expertise.

Independently, two AGA executives have left the association to pursue new opportunities. Sara Slane, senior vice president, public affairs, is launching an advisory firm assisting sports and media companies; and Stacy Papadopoulos, senior vice president and general counsel, has accepted the position of general counsel and senior vice president of operations and special initiatives at the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

» AINSWORTH GAME TECHNOLOGY

Lawrence Levy has been appointed CEO of Ainsworth Game Technology (AGT), subject to necessary regulatory approvals.

Danny Gladstone, outgoing CEO, will remain on the board at AGT as a non-executive director.

Prior to this appointment, Levy has held senior positions within the gaming industry over a successful career spanning 37 years. His industry experience comprises of all areas in casino operations, sales and management; working in 19 countries across Europe, North and East Africa, Latin America, ex-Russian states and now Australia.

Most recently, he held the position of vice president global sales for Novomatic AG Austria.

» ARISTOCRAT TECHNOLOGIES

Aristocrat Technologies has taken the next step in the evolution and growth of its business, bringing together its land-based operations under a global CEO of land based, along with new leadership in the Americas. 

Mitchell Bowen has been appointed to the role of CEO land based, responsible for all of Aristocrat’s regulated gaming businesses worldwide, while Hector Fernandez (CFO, Americas) has been appointed president, Aristocrat Americas reporting directly to Mitchell.  These appointments are effective immediately, subject to any necessary regulatory approvals.

Bowen has spent several years in the Americas for Aristocrat, leading marketing and product functions, and helped lead the turnaround of the Australia and New Zealand business. He currently has commercial and operational accountability for Aristocrat’s land-based business across the balance of the globe, a deep and longstanding customer relationships and has played a core role in thought leadership and in execution of Aristocrat’s growth strategy over the past several years.

Fernandez has taken over from Matt Wilson, who has accepted a role outside Aristocrat and departed the company. 

“The creation of a single global land-based business is the right step to take at this time,” said Trevor Croker, president and CEO of Aristocrat Group Ltd.  “It will facilitate thorough and coordinated delivery of transformation and growth projects across our regional teams, along with more integrated product and technology strategy and seamless execution. Bringing together our land-based operations also positions us to more effectively serve an increasing number of global customers and sets the business up for its next phase of growth.

» CANTERBURY PARK

Mike Montross has been named senior director of card casino marketing and analytics for Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn. His main focus will be continuing the growth of card casino revenue.

Montross is an experienced casino gaming executive who will oversee the expansion of a player development program to include building a host program, revamping the player casino rewards initiatives and enhancing the service provided to casino guests. His past positions include vice president of interactive with NRT Technology, vice president of marketing with Lakes Entertainment and marketing director with Mystic Lake Casino Hotel.

Montross most recently held a marketing role with Treasure Island Resort Casino, where he managed hotel, waterpark, casino and entertainment marketing.

» GUN LAKE CASINO

Michigan-based Gun Lake Casino has named José Flores as its new vice president and general manager and promoted Brian Penninga to the position of assistant director of marketing.

In his role, Flores will provide leadership and oversight for all day-to-day operations of the casino organization.  A veteran of the gaming industry, he brings 25 years of gaming and hospitality experience to his new role.

Flores began his career in 1994 at Empress Casino in Joliet, Ill.  During his tenure in Illinois, he held several positions of increasing responsibility in food and beverage and operations, leading up to his position as vice president of facility operations. He later assumed the role of assistant general manager for Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia. Most recently, Flores served as the vice president and general manager of Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway located in Bangor, Maine. 

Penninga has been a member of the Gun Lake Casino team since October 2016 and has served as a member of the marketing team for two years. He will report to the director of marketing and will oversee all special events, entertainment, property promotions, casino host programs and passport club operations.

Prior to joining Gun Lake Casino, Penninga worked in hospitality operating a small local business.

» KONAMI GAMING

Konami Gaming has hired Greg Colella to the post of vice president, games product management and Sina Miri to the role of vice president, innovation and R&D strategy.

Colella is responsible for leading Konami’s strategic product management, including market research, positioning, development and delivery. He has more than 20 years of gaming industry management experience spanning all global regulated markets, and possesses a demonstrated expertise in gaming product market analysis, lifecycle development, strategic marketing and sales support processes.

Miri is responsible for identifying new opportunities for innovation, developing successful business models, coordinating organization-wide strategic planning, evaluating on-going growth and shaping fresh development perspectives across the company’s casino games business. He has worked with companies at the forefront of the technology sector for over two decades, and has led some of the world’s largest gaming companies as a member of senior executive leadership. Miri’s areas of expertise include product management, technology and marketing.

» LIVE! CASINO & HOTEL MARYLAND

Hanover, Md.-based Live! Casino & Hotel has appointed gaming industry veteran Anthony Faranca to the post of executive vice president and general manager. He brings more than 25 years of diverse management experience from multiple gaming jurisdictions to his new role, where he will assume oversight of the day-to-day management and operations of one of the largest commercial casinos in the country.

Faranca most recently served as vice president and general manager for Station Casinos in Las Vegas, before joining the Live! Team. Previously, he held the position of vice president and general manager for Parx Casino in Pennsylvania, where he helped affirm the property’s status as the number one revenue-producing facility in the state.

In addition, Faranca spent several years in Atlantic City, where he served as vice president of national casino marketing for Caesars Entertainment.

Throughout his career, Faranca has helped organizations drive growth through effective marketing, enhanced guest service and team member engagement.

» SEMINOLE HARD ROCK HOLLYWOOD

Bo Guidry has been named president of Florida-based Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.  In his new role, Guidry will be responsible for all operations and management of the integrated resort, which will debut its $1.5 billion expansion this October.

Guidry replaces Auggie Cipollini, who has been promoted to the position of president of Seminole Hard Rock Support Services.

Guidry was most recently senior vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Council Bluffs and Harrah’s Council Bluffs Hotel & Casino, both located in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  With a combined team of 1,200 employees, the two casino complexes were owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment Corporation. Guidry managed the two casinos in Council Bluffs for 10 years and was responsible for strategic direction and daily operations. 

Previously, Guidry was vice president of operations and assistant general manager for what was then Harrah’s Casino St. Louis, located in Maryland Heights, Mo.  He also held the positions there of vice president of casino operations and vice president of food & beverage / hotel operations.

Guidry also worked in food and beverage departments at casinos in Atlantic City, Lake Tahoe, New Orleans and Las Vegas.

» VIRGIN HOTELS

Virgin Hotels, the lifestyle hotel brand by Sir Richard Branson, has appointed Mary Giuliano as the managing director of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, which will soon rebrand as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

The appointment designates Giuliano as the first female managing director for the Virgin Hotels brand; in this role, Giuliano will leverage her dynamic hospitality experience to lead the transition, oversee day-to-day operations, and ensure the successful launch of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

Before joining Virgin Hotels, Giuliano served as general manager for Las Vegas-based Vdara Hotel & Spa, where she developed and directed strategic planning initiatives for the 1,495 all-suite resort with top line revenues exceeding $125 million.

During her time there, she managed a staff of over 1,000 while increasing year-over-year profitability and cash flow by establishing business processes, revenue generation guidance and budget management. Most pivotal for her new role, Giuliano repositioned the business model of the property from condo-hotel to luxury boutique hotel in a competitive market resulting in high ratings and accreditations within the travel industry.

Giuliano has also held leadership roles at MGM Resort International, Treasure Island and CityCenter.