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Inside Gaming: Caesars Entertainment Names Anthony Rodio New CEO

Inside Gaming: Caesars Entertainment Names Anthony Rodio New CEO

Rodio Succeeds Frissora as Caesars CEO Amid Takeover Talk

More than five months after having signaled current CEO Mark Frissora would be stepping down — and two months after he had originally planned to leave — Caesars Entertainment Corp. this week has finally named Frissora's successor.

On Tuesday the company announced Anthony Rodio, currently CEO of the gaming company Affinity Gaming, will be taking over as Caesars' CEO within the next 30 days. Frissora steps down after having been appointed CEO in 2015.

Rodio will be based in Las Vegas and will join the company's Board of Directors. Also announced was the Board's plan to create a "transaction committee" charged with overseeing Caesars' "evaluation of ongoing efforts in creating additional shareholder value." That committee will no doubt be focused primarily on considering the recent interest other companies have expressed to partner with and/or acquire Caesars, among them Eldorado Resorts and the Golden Nugget.

"Tony brings to Caesars a track record of operational excellence, proven leadership and deep industry knowledge and expertise," said James Hunt who chairs Caesars' Board. "We are confident that Tony has the vision and depth of operating experience to lead our talented senior management team."

Rodio similarly expressed enthusiasm about his impending role. "Our industry is going through a time of transition and opportunity and I look forward to leading Caesars' exceptional team through the Company's next phase of growth, innovation and value creation," said Rodio.

Prior to taking his current position at Affinity Gaming in October 2018, Rodio served as CEO of Tropicana Entertainment Inc. from 2012-18. For most of Rodio's tenure, Tropicana Entertainment had been owned by Carl Icahn. In April 2018, Icahn sold most of the companies' properties to Gaming and Leisure Properties for a reported price tag of $1.85 billion.

As Reuters explains, Icahn has since "built a stake in Caesars this year and, as of March 28, owned about 15 percent of the company." The Street reports Icahn's stake is now at 18 percent.

In late February, Icahn had proposed Rodio as a successor to Frissora, per Reuters. Then last month Caesars made a deal with Icahn to appoint three new directors to the Board. Meanwhile various outlets have reported how Icahn has been pressing Caesars to go through with a sale.

WSJ: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on the Market

In other transactional news, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday the Blackstone Group LP is looking to sell The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel and casino.

Blackstone, who acquired the property in 2014 for $1.7 billion and has spent a reported $500M more in renovations, has retained the services of Deutsche Bank AG and PJT Partners Inc according to unnamed sources familiar with the plans.

The two-tower complex features 3,000-plus rooms and a 110,000-square-foot casino. The Cosmopolitan first opened in December 2010 following a lengthy financial struggle surrounding its construction.

"A sale could bring $4 billion or more for the Cosmopolitan if it goes to another casino operator," speculates the WSJ. The property is located on the Strip between the Bellagio Hotel and Casino and ARIA Resort & Casino.

Loss of Sports Betting for Two WV Casinos Results in Lawsuit

The May 2018 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court lifting the federal prohibition on sports betting meant bettors in several states were recently able to bet on NCAA Tournament games for the first time.

Things didn't go so smoothly, however, at a couple of West Virginia locations where a contract dispute with a technology supplier resulted in sports betting having to be taken offline entirely since March 6, reports MetroNews.

A civil lawsuit was filed yesterday in Delaware by the casino operator Delaware North iGaming, a subsidiary of the company that owns both the Wheeling Island Casino and Racetrack in Wheeling, West Virginia, and the Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro.

The suit targets Miomni Gaming and its CEO Michael Venner, alleging neither informed Delaware North the supplier did not own the intellectual properties operating the BetLucky sports-betting platform. The company that does, Entregaming, "pulled the plug over a contract dispute with Miomni," which is when Delaware North first discovered Miomni didn't own the IP rights to the platform.

Delaware North had a contract with Miomni to create the BetLucky sports betting app. After lawmakers in West Virginia passed legislation to allow sports betting in the state late last summer, the first wagers were taken at the Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras properties on December 27 of last year.

Service was interrupted in early March, however, thanks to the dispute between Miomni and Entregaming, which meant the two casinos missed out on March Madness.

Sports betting continues to be offered elsewhere in West Virginia, namely at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in Ranson, and the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort in New Cumberland, albeit with no mobile app.

Photos: Anthony Rodio via Caesars Entertainment; "Caesars Palace - Across Bellagio Lake," public domain.

  • Inside Gaming: Caesars names Anthony Rodio new CEO, forms transaction committee to consider deals.

  • The Cosmopolitan of LV going on market, per report; WV casinos file lawsuit over sports betting flap.

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