DIVINE WINES 8 casinos win with wine selections CONTRIBUTIONS & DONATIONS PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

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1 CONTRIBUTIONS & DONATIONS MOVING AHEAD PEOPLE IN THE NEWS ADDED ATTRACTIONS Official Newsmagazine of the Mississippi & Louisiana Gaming Industries AUGUST 2015 DIVINE WINES 8 casinos win with wine selections BOOMTOWN CASINO CELEBRATES 21 YEARS HOLLYWOOD TUNICA TOPS WITH DONATIONS REWARDING EMPLOYEES IN BOSSIER CITY

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3 Table of Contents August 2015 THISISSUE COVER STORY 8 Divine Wines Mississippi, Louisiana casinos win with wine selections. FEATURES 6 Guest Editorial AGA reports gaming is thriving. 7 Gold Strike Heroes Employees work together to save life. 18 Happy Anniversary Cakes, T-shirts, pins and donations. EVERYISSUE 4 From the MGHA Remembering Hurricane Katrina. 5 Gaming Revenues Mixed results for casinos. 10 Moving Ahead Gold Strike names new GM While At Work Parties and fun for everyone. 12 People In The News Employees honored for good work. 19 Contributions & Donations Raising money for those in need. 22 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas set for Sept. 28-Oct. 1 LAS VEGAS Global Gaming Expo 2015, the world s premier event for the casino gaming industry, is broadening its scope to match the changing gamingresort landscape and position its attendees for the future. Complementing an expanded gaming focus, the 2015 show will introduce the Integrated Resort Experience at G2E, presenting innovative non-gaming technology, products and services as guests would experience them in a gamingresort setting. This new effort will deliver a complete end-to-end solution to help casinos attract more guests, encourage them to stay and play longer, and increase revenue per visitor. Led by the American Gaming Association and Global Gaming Expo, the Integrated Resort Experience will be co-located with G2E, which takes place Sept. 28 through Oct. 1 in Las Vegas at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. The annual event showcases the latest developments in gaming technology and features keynote addresses by high-profile leaders from within and outside of the gaming industry. Gaming is one component of a diverse entertainment offering in destinations across the globe, and we re excited to enhance G2E in a way that reflects the full integrated resort experience, said Ron Rosenbaum, chief operating officer of the AGA. Our goal is to make G2E better every year, and we re confident this broadened scope will provide greater value to the tens of thousands of gaming professionals who will travel to Las Vegas from around the globe this fall. For show information, visit AUGUST 2015 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS 3

4 Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association Hurricane Katrina will not be soon forgotten By Larry Gregory It is hard to believe it has been 10 years since Katrina hit our Gulf Coast. It still seems like yesterday when that tragic day happened. Who can forget Aug. 29, 2005? Anyone associated with the storm knew this one was large and unusual, and that trouble was heading our way. I was the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission at the time and had the responsibility of closing the casinos before hurricanes arrived. I was glued to my television screen watching the large cloud of weather move inch by inch closer to our shores. Historically, casinos aren t too happy when they have to close the doors, but on this occasion, I was getting no complaints. The decision to close the casinos was made and at about 2 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28, the process of lockdown commenced. Public safety was paramount in my mind for this storm, and getting visitors and employees away from the casinos was a constant thought. Katrina arrived and soon after we began to see what she had left in her wake. I don t think anyone could have imagined the devastation that took place that morning. My thoughts began to turn to what we would do next. I knew well that recovery on the Gulf Coast hinged on 17,000 casino employees returning to work to be able to provide for their families. It didn t take long for me to receive a call from our governor at the time, Haley Barbour, who wanted me and other emergency officials to leave Jackson the very next morning and join him on a helicopter tour to assess the damage. We left early and flew south. I knew we arrived when we saw the devastation strewn everywhere. My focus was the damage done to the Larry Gregory casino barges. We flew over every casino on the Coast. I couldn t believe what I was seeing. Barges had been stripped away from the water and were sitting on Highway 90 and even on top of other buildings. I knew our industry was completely devastated. I soon got a second call from Gov. Barbour asking me and Jerry St. Pe, former chairman of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, to make a trip to Las Vegas to meet with the corporate CEOs of companies that had casinos on the Gulf Coast. Our mission was to get a commitment from each of them to remain in Mississippi. Our task was easy because every casino company gave a resounding yes to reopening. However, their one condition was that they had to be land based. This message was delivered to Gov. Barbour and the leadership at the State Capitol. Soon after, work began on a legislative bill to allow casinos to build on land. There was much heated debate on whether this was a good decision for our state. In the end, most agreed that our Gulf Coast needed help and there were too many jobs at stake to not pass the legislation. Work furiously began to get the casinos reopened. The first casino to come back was IP Casino, which opened in December Jerry St. Pe and I were there for the opening and couldn t believe that people were lined up as far as the eye could see to be a part of it. Other properties followed, and before we knew it our industry was coming back bigger and better than it had been. Never did the leadership at the local or state level lose sight of the significance and impact of our industry, including the number of people we employ. I am reminded of the hard work and dedication of our local properties. Every general manager and the staff at each >> To Page 6 Official Newsmagazine of the Mississippi & Louisiana Gaming Industries AUGUST 2015 Volume XII Issue 12 STAFF W. Michael Sunderman Publisher Lori Beth Susman General Manager / Executive Editor Mary Sunderman Associate Publisher David Grisham Contributing Editor Michael Haynes Business Manager Designers Brian Treadaway Tim Wall Missy Mitchell READER SERVICES Subscriptions Send check or money order to address below: $30 for six months (6 issues) $50 for one year (12 issues) Mississippi/Louisiana Gaming News Phone: (228) Fax: (228) Intraplex Parkway, Gulfport, MS Change of Address Phone: (228) The U.S. Postal Service does not automatically forward magazines. You don t want to miss a single issue. Copyright, 2015 Mississippi/Louisiana Gaming News (MSLAGN) is owned and published by M2 Media Corp., Intraplex Parkway, Gulfport, MS MSLAGN is produced in cooperation with the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association and the Louisiana Casino Association. The contents of MSLAGN are copyrighted. All rights are reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. 4 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS AUGUST 2015

5 MISSISSIPPI GROSS GAMING REVENUES Nearly 315 associates featured in this issue! Revenues dip in MS, LA has mixed results By David Grisham MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA Statewide revenue totals were lower for Mississippi casinos in June of this year compared to June of last year. Casinos on the Mississippi Gulf Coast saw revenue dip, while river casinos in the state saw revenue remain virtually the same in the June-to-June comparison. Louisiana riverboat casinos experienced revenue increases June of this year compared to last while racetrack slots and land-based properties in the state saw revenue drop. Compared to May, casinos in Mississippi along with Louisiana casinos and racetrack slots in Louisiana experienced decreased revenue in June. Mississippi casinos took in $172,807,446 in June, down 1.9 percent from the $176,100,032 collected in June of last year. Statewide revenue in June was 6.6 percent lower than the May revenue figure of $184,968,000. Mississippi Gulf Coast casinos saw revenue dip by 3.2 percent in June 2015 compared to June 2014, going from $98,544,819 in June of last year to $95,512,378 this June. Compared to May revenue of $99,969,406, June revenue was down 4.5 percent on the Gulf Coast. River casinos in Mississippi took in $77,295,067 in June, down three-tenths of a percent compared to the $77,555,213 they collected in June of last year. Compared to a May revenue figure of $84,998,593, river casinos experienced a decrease of 9.1 percent in June. Revenue was up collectively in Louisiana for riverboat casinos. Riverboat casinos in Louisiana experienced an 11.6 percent jump in revenue in June 2015 compared to June 2014, going from $142,365,154 to $158,869,680 in the June-to-June comparison. Compared to a May revenue figure of $179,331,593, Louisiana riverboat casinos saw an 11.4 percent decrease in June. The land-based Harrah s New Orleans saw revenue decrease 30.7 percent in June 2015 compared to June 2014, dropping from $29,927,133 to $20,727,527, thanks in part to the New Orleans smoking ban. The $20,727,527 June figure was 14 percent lower than May s $24,113,961. Slots at Louisiana racetracks experienced an 8.3 percent decrease in June 2015 versus June 2014, going from $31,177,866 to $28,603,986. Compared to May s $33,696,142 revenue figure, slots at racetracks saw a 15.1 decrease in June. Breaking it down by region for Louisiana riverboat casinos, Shreveport/Bossier casinos saw revenue decrease from $55,725,603 in June 2014 to $53,753,929 in June 2015 for a 3.5 percent dip (-14.2 percent compared to $62,682,799 in May). Lake Charles, with the addition of the Golden Nugget, experienced >> To Page 6 RIVER CASINOS Increase % Increase Month 2014 Month 2015 (Decrease) (Decrease) JUN $77,555,213 JUN $77,295,068 $(260,145) -0.3% MAY $87,369,916 MAY $84,998,593 $(2,371,323) -2.7% APR $79,267,903 APR $82,771,015 $3,503, % MAR $103,338,442 MAR $90,960,800 $(12,377,642) -12.0% FEB $92,974,650 FEB $85,705,081 $(7,269,569) -7.8% JAN $78,061,383 JAN $77,691,344 $(370,039) -0.5% $518,567,507 $499,421,902 $(19,145,606) -3.7% GULF COAST CASINOS Increase % Increase Month 2014 Month 2015 (Decrease) (Decrease) JUN $98,544,819 JUN $95,512,378 $(3,032,441) -3.1% MAY $84,257,936 MAY $99,969,407 $15,711, % APR $84,544,909 APR $94,284,960 $9,740, % MAR $104,834,926 MAR $107,370,246 $2,535, % FEB $89,379,756 FEB $95,214,234 $5,834, % JAN $81,436,764 JAN $87,290,355 $5,853, % $542,999,111 $579,641,580 $36,642, % LOUISIANA GROSS GAMING REVENUES SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER CASINOS Increase % Increase Month 2014 Month 2015 (Decrease) (Decrease) JUN $55,725,603 JUN $53,753,929 $(1,971,674) -3.5% MAY $61,868,127 MAY $62,682,799 $814, % APR $50,695,786 APR $57,659,406 $6,963, % MAR $60,716,046 MAR $61,784,549 $1,068, % FEB $57,259,467 FEB $59,303,241 $2,043, % JAN $53,230,529 JAN $54,775,374 $1,544, % $339,495,558 $349,959,298 $10,463, % LAKE CHARLES CASINOS Increase % Increase Month 2014 Month 2015 (Decrease) (Decrease) JUN $43,232,632 JUN $60,509,419 $17,276, % MAY $39,551,944 MAY $65,799,785 $26,247, % APR $42,883,430 APR $59,406,228 $16,522, % MAR $42,267,758 MAR $61,393,503 $19,125, % FEB $38,097,363 FEB $53,486,606 $15,389, % JAN $37,289,864 JAN $62,828,532 $25,538, % $243,322,991 $363,424,073 $120,101, % NEW ORLEANS CASINOS Increase % Increase Month 2014 Month 2015 (Decrease) (Decrease) JUN $20,925,852 JUN $21,806,348 $880, % MAY $23,753,574 MAY $25,474,389 $1,720, % APR $21,020,763 APR $23,213,962 $2,193, % MAR $25,482,266 MAR $23,859,767 $(1,622,499) -6.4% FEB $22,063,198 FEB $24,284,121 $2,220, % JAN $19,720,526 JAN $21,212,552 $1,492, % $132,966,179 $139,851,139 $6,884, % BATON ROUGE CASINOS Increase % Increase Month 2014 Month 2015 (Decrease) (Decrease) JUN $22,481,067 JUN $22,799,984 $318, % MAY $25,147,135 MAY $25,374,620 $227, % APR $22,709,930 APR $24,121,849 $1,411, % MAR $25,952,410 MAR $26,156,490 $204, % FEB $25,131,864 FEB $27,377,718 $2,245, % JAN $21,257,998 JAN $23,082,273 $1,824, % $142,680,404 $148,912,934 $6,232, % HARRAH S NEW ORLEANS CASINO Increase % Increase Month 2014 Month 2015 (Decrease) (Decrease) JUN $29,927,133 JUN $20,727,527 $(9,199,606) -30.7% MAY $28,808,900 MAY $24,113,961 $(4,694,939) -16.3% APR $26,660,838 APR $25,485,274 $(1,175,564) -4.4% MAR $32,607,271 MAR $30,209,516 $(2,397,755) -7.4% FEB $32,765,995 FEB $26,393,892 $(6,372,103) -19.4% JAN $26,806,315 JAN $26,216,771 $(589,544) -2.2% $177,576,452 $153,146,941 $(24,429,511) -13.8% AUGUST 2015 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS 5

6 Ten years after Katrina, gaming is thriving By Geoff Freeman No one will ever forget the immense damage Hurricane Katrina caused in The historic storm devastated the Gulf Coast in so many ways, most importantly in the suffering it caused families who lost friends and loved ones. Ten years later, those wounds are still healing. Returning to some semblance of normalcy has proved difficult, as Katrina left more than $100 billion of damage in its trail. The storm halted tourism and left businesses scattered across the nation. Top analysts gave full recovery slim odds and, if it were to happen at all, would require decades to achieve. Casinos were among those businesses searching for a way forward. Gaming employees were out of work. News of the storm s impact didn t help tourism on the Coast. Yet rebuilding needed to happen. And it did. Leaders from gaming companies partnered with the Gulf Coast community to rebuild the region, rejuvenate the economy and provide jobs to residents. Nowhere is that more evident than Biloxi, where the gaming industry invested $1.4 billion in the town s reconstruction within two years after the hurricane hit. By 2007, 10 casino resorts had re-opened along the Geoff Freeman Mississippi Gulf Coast, bringing nearly 20,000 people back to work. More than $500 million of annual wages collectively circulated back into the economy and drove business back to Mississippi. The positive effects were felt instantaneously. Those figures have only continued to grow throughout the years. Oxford Economics recently conducted a study showing that Mississippi s gaming industry today supports more than 37,000 workers, whose total annual salary soars north of $1.4 billion in collective wages. It also generates more than $4 billion to the economy and contributes nearly $1 billion in tax revenues. Gaming s economic benefits are undeniable. Not only has gaming brought jobs to the area, but high-quality careers for workers from diverse backgrounds with wide-ranging levels of experience and areas of expertise. A report earlier this year highlighted gaming as one of the most diverse industries in America, with 45 percent of the workforce composed of racial or ethnic minorities far more diverse than the national average of 33 percent. In addition, many of the top companies in the industry support continuing education programs. Today, more than 20 percent of gaming employees who remain in the industry continue to further their education and earn a degree. Higher education means greater opportunity and an overall better quality of life for the people of Mississippi. The accomplishments of the gaming industry in Biloxi post-katrina are no accident. The key to its sustained success is the creation of diversified entertainment offerings within the gaming sector. Local officials have recognized and embraced this idea and passed critical legislation allowing companies to create some of the most well-rounded casino destinations in the world. This has recently been exemplified by MGM Park, an impressive new baseball stadium that has already hosted community events and home games for the Biloxi Shuckers. The challenge set before the Gulf Coast post-katrina was unimaginable. However, out of unprecedented destruction rose the unquestionable grit and determination from the people to rebuild the region back into a thriving community, from Baton Rouge to Biloxi. We re proud of the gaming industry s contribution to the restoration of the Gulf Coast and pledge to take all necessary steps to ensure that the success in the region continues for years to come. Geoff Freeman is the president and chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association. Follow him on FreemanAGA. >> From Page 5 a 40 percent increase in June 2015 compared to the same month the prior year, jumping from $43,232,632 to $60,509,419 (-8 percent compared to $65,799,785 in May). New Orleans increased 4.2 percent in revenue in June 2015 compared to June 2014 from $20,925,852 to $21,806,348 (-14.4 percent compared to $25,474,389 in May). Baton Rouge experienced a 1.4 percent increase in revenue, bringing in $22,799,984 in June 2015 compared to $22,481,067 in June 2014 (-10.1 percent compared to $25,374,620 in May). >> From Page 4 property stepped up and did a great job in helping this industry rebuild. They knew what was at stake. Their leadership and decisions were critical for our industry to succeed, and they made the right decisions. Reflecting on these past 10 years, it is clear we did come back bigger and better. Our industry has been faced with so many challenges over the years, but none as large and fierce as Hurricane Katrina. I hope this type of event will never take place again. To all the gaming companies and employees, I salute you and your undefeatable spirit. Larry Gregory is the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association. He can be reached at msgaming.org. 6 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS AUGUST 2015

7 Starfish Awards Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City recently presented Starfish Awards to several crew members who received a high score on the resort s secret shopper visits. General Manager Barry Regula and other managers surprised these crew members with balloons and certificates. Starfish Awards were given to Ashley Waters, Brian Graphia, Cedric Caldwell, Louis Charles, Paul Behan, Sebrena Mills- Hawthorne, Terri Bolfer and Yolanda McKinney. Gold Strike heroes to the rescue TUNICA RESORTS It was a normal day in the employee dining room at Gold Strike Casino when two employees noticed a colleague was choking. The pair sprang into action and saved a life. On July 7, Charles Myles, security officer, and Kecia Kimmons-Fason, table games dealer, were having lunch with colleagues in the resort s Riverside Cafe employee dining room when they noticed another employee who was choking and couldn t breathe. It happened pretty quickly. Kecia and I ran over, Myles said. She started the Heimlich maneuver and I took over. After about three or four thrusts, I was able to Charles Myles and Kecia Kimmonsclear the employee s airway. We stayed Fason were recognized as heroes at with her until my supervisor and others Gold Strike. got to the scene. The employee was shaken by the incident, but needed no further medical attention. Myles credited his security training for his quick response and was grateful that Kimmons-Fason was there to help handle the situation. This is the first time something like this had happened to me and I m glad we were there, Myles said. I know I felt like a hero, but it was just human nature that took over. Employees are living well at L Auberge LAKE CHARLES Living Well is more than a 12-week program at L Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles. It is a lifetime of choices that promotes health and well-being so that employees can Be the Best You. That slogan was part of the L Auberge Living Well program, which emphasizes such healthy lifestyle choices as eating healthy and regular weekly exercise. When the program was completed, 36 team members lost a total of 252 pounds. Team members applied to be selected into the program, with participants assigned to a fitness family for twice-a-week training with fitness professionals. The casino resort partnered with two local L Auberge Casino Resort employees divided into teams for the Living Well program. facilities, CHRISTUS Athletic Club and Unique Fitness, during the program. Participating team members also received calorie-controlled meals and attended a healthy eating seminar. At the end of the 12 weeks, the winners of the program were selected based on both progress and active participation. Progress included both pounds and inches lost and participation included weekly exercise attendance. Grand-prize winners, including Jeff Doerr, Jeff Haley and Chris Lavergne, received a one-year gym membership, $500 gift card to The Shops at L Auberge and a $100 gift card to Dick s Sporting Goods. Doerr, marine department, lost a total of 48.5 pounds and 12 inches from his waist and hips, and Haley, table games, lost 19 pounds and 5 inches from his waist and hips. AUGUST 2015 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS 7

8 Casino restaurants boast winning wine offerings By David Grisham MISSISSIPPI Several Mississippi and Louisiana casino restaurants have been honored in Wine Spectator s recently released 2015 Restaurant Awards, which highlight the eateries around the globe that offer the best wine selections. This year, more than 3,600 restaurants have been named award winners, spanning all 50 U.S. states and more than 80 other countries and territories. The Award of Excellence is for restaurants that feature a wine list offering a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. Typically, these lists offer at least 90 selections. Thirty-two at IP Casino Resort Spa in Biloxi was the only casino restaurant in either Mississippi or Louisiana to receive the Best of Award of Excellence designation. The Best of Award of Excellence was awarded to less than a thousand winners worldwide. These lists typically offer 400 or more selections, along with superior presentation, and display either vintage depth, with several vertical offerings of top wines, Ember Grille & Wine Bar at L Auberge Lake Charles. or excellent breadth across several wine regions. Of 15 Award of Excellence winners in Mississippi this year, five are casino restaurants. Four are located in Biloxi and one is in Tunica. Three of them are MGM Resorts restaurants. BR Prime Steakhouse and Jia, both at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, made the list. Gold Strike s Chicago Steakhouse (Beau Rivage s sister MGM property in Mississippi) took the award in Tunica. Other winning Biloxi restaurants were Mignon s Steaks & Seafood at Palace Casino Resort and Ruth s Chris Steak House at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Receiving the Award of Excellence in Louisiana were three casino restaurants. Making the list were: 18 Steak at L Auberge Baton Rouge, Ember Grille & Wine Bar at L Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles and Ruth s Chris Steak House at Harrah s New Orleans. Louisiana has many restaurants on the Wine Spectator awards lists, with 27 of them located in New Orleans and 21 located elsewhere in the state. The number of selections and strengths listed are: Mississippi: Thirty-two, 720, California, France and Germany BR Prime Steakhouse, 255, California Chicago Steakhouse, 150, California and France Jia, 225, California and France Mignon s Steaks & Seafood, 310, California Ruth s Chris Steak House, 253, California Louisiana: 18 Steakhouse, 210, California, France and Italy Palace Casino Resort recognized as Fit-Friendly Worksite BILOXI The American Heart Association recognized Palace Casino Resort as a Gold Level Fit-Friendly Worksite. This award is given by the American Heart Association to businesses that have demonstrated a strong commitment to providing a healthy workplace for employees. Palace Casino provides a healthy, smoke-free environment for our associates and guests, said CFO George Conwill. In addition to being the only smoke-free casino resort in Mississippi, Palace Casino Resort offers additional healthy lifestyle benefits to its associates. Our associate dining area Mark Warren, sommelier at Beau Rivage, shows off some of the wine selections at BR Prime Steakhouse, which was a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner. Ember Grille & Wine Bar, 210, California and Oregon Ruth s Chris Steak House at Harrah s, 250, California Sommeliers in Mississippi recognized in the issue included: Harry Hall, thirtytwo, and Mark Warren, BR Prime Steakhouse and Jia. Wine directors recognized in the issue included Andreas Karaminas, Chicago Steakhouse; Bruce Cartwright, BR Prime Steakhouse and Jia; and James T. Brown, Mignon s Steaks & Seafood. Louisiana sommeliers recognized included Glen Camardelle at 18 Steak. Wine directors included Sean Malone, 18 Steak; Stephen Tyson, Ember Grille & Wine Bar; and Lindsay Welch, Ruth s Chris Steak House Harrah s New Orleans. The full list of award winners is featured in the Aug. 31 issue of Wine Spectator, which hit newsstands in July. offers fruit and a fully stocked salad bar, as well as baked chicken and cooked vegetables daily. Associates can receive a free blood panel once a year at a local contracted clinic, visit the doctor for a co-pay of only $5 and join one of the area s participating gyms at a discounted rate, continued Conwill. The American Heart Association established the Fit- Friendly Worksite program as part of its goal to reduce the death rate from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent by the year MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS AUGUST 2015

9 Hard Rock, L Auberge lauded as best by USA Today GULF COAST One casino in Mississippi and one in Louisiana were among the casinos honored recently with a 10Best Readers Choice Awards from USA TODAY. While it was a top 10 list, the two properties would have actually made the cut if the list had stopped at five. Placing fourth was Louisiana s L Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles. Mississippi s Hard Rock Hotel and Casino placed fifth. After receiving nominations from USA TODAY travel experts, the 10Best Readers Choice Awards closed on June 28 after four weeks of voting. When the results were in, California led the way with three properties making the list. Connecticut had two casinos among the top 10. Las Vegas and Atlantic City, like Mississippi and Louisiana, had one each in the top 10. A panel of experts chose nominees. The panel included a combination of editors from USA TODAY and 10Best.com, as well as contributors from other Gannett properties. It was an honor simply to be nominated in the first place by USA TODAY travel experts as one of the top 10 U.S. casinos, said Hard Rock Biloxi General Manager Todd Raziano. However, to have our loyal guests and USA TODAY readers vote as much as they did to get us ranked as one of the Top 5 Best Casinos in the country is a true honor, as it is a testament to the remarkable guests we have coming here year after year. It s a privilege and pleasure to serve them. The 10Best.com site provides users with travel content of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world. The core of the site s uniqueness is its team of local travel experts. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Biloxi (above) and L Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles. AUGUST 2015 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS 9

10 Moving Ahead Johnson named GM at Gold Strike Casino Resort TUNICA RESORTS Melonie Ducre Johnson has been named general manager of Gold Strike Casino Resort, an MGM Resorts International property. In her new role, Johnson is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the property while providing strategic direction for all divisions. Johnson began her career in finance with Jazz Casino Company in New Orleans, where she gained experience in setting the financial reporting and accounting capability for the property. She was promoted to director of finance at Harrah s New Orleans, where she was responsible for managing financial accounting and reporting, payroll, accounts payable, collections, purchasing, regulatory compliance, cash functions and casino accounting. In 2006, Johnson was promoted to vice president of finance for the nowclosed Harrah s Tunica. In this position, she oversaw forecasting, accounting, reporting and budgeting, before being asked to lead financial operations for Caesars other Tunica properties, Horseshoe and Roadhouse, as regional vice president of finance. Three years later, she was appointed to regional vice president of operations for the three properties. Melonie Ducre Johnson After nearly 14 years with Harrah s/ Caesars, Johnson joined Penn National Gaming as vice president of finance for Hollywood Casino Aurora in Illinois. She was later promoted to assistant general manager of Hollywood Casino Charles Town in West Virginia after serving as interim general manager at the Aurora property for seven months. Johnson holds a bachelor s degree in accounting from the University of New Orleans and is a certified public accountant. Thompson, Pasko added to executive team LAKE CHARLES Gerry Del Prete, senior vice president and general manager of Golden Nugget Lake Charles, announced two additions to the executive team. Rosanne Thompson has been named vice president of human resources and Jason Pasko has been named vice president of casino marketing. Thompson comes to Golden Nugget with nine years of casino experience. In her new role, she is responsible for the oversight of strategic and day-to-day human resources Rosanne Thompson New hosts Jason Pasko Harrah s Gulf Coast added two hosts to its casino marketing team. Matt Frazier is also a new casino host and Brooke Rivera has been promoted from special events coordinator to casino host. functions. Most recently, she was the vice president of human resources at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno. She has also worked for Penn National Gaming at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.V., and Argosy Casino in Alton, Ill. Thompson was also part of the opening team for Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie, Penn. Thompson has a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Penn State Erie. Pasko has been in the casino industry since 1999 when he joined Greektown Casino in Detroit as part of the pre-opening finance and accounting team. He was promoted to a number positions and most recently was the senior director of player development. In his new role, Pasko is responsible for overseeing the host team, administration of player events and strategies for taking care of guests. Pasko has a degree in finance and accounting from Alma College in Michigan. Matt Frazier Brooke Rivera Sund promoted at Golden Nugget BILOXI Golden Nugget Biloxi announced the promotion of Brandon Alexander Sund to beverage manager. Sund began his casino career in March 2010 with the Isle of Capri as a cook. He was quickly promoted to food and beverage lead then moved on to beverage supervisor. Sund was an instrumental part of the transition from the Isle of Capri to the Golden Nugget, and was also an integral part of the launch of several new restaurant and bar venues, including Lillie s, Michael Patrick s, Rush Lounge and H20. General Manger Chett Harrison said, The part of my job that I enjoy the most is seeing employees grow with the company. Brandon is a great example of a local person who started in the industry at an entry level and has worked his way up through dedication and hard work. Sund holds a Bachelor s of Science and Business Administration degree from The University of Southern Mississippi. 10 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS AUGUST 2015

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12 People In The News Making a difference at Bally s TUNICA RESORTS Bally s Casino named its Team Members Making a Difference and Supervisor of the Quarter. Receiving the award for Guest Service were Theresa Tanksley, gift shop attendant, and Donna McGee, dealer. The One Team Award was given to Sophia Gibson, cook. And, taking home the Leadership Award was Bobbie Presley, front desk agent. The Supervisors of the Quarter for the second quarter of 2015 were Harlan Wayne Merritt, slot tech supervisor, and April Willins, security supervisor. Sophia Gibson Bobbie Presley Winners received $500 and special parking for the quarter. Theresa Tanksley Wayne Merritt Donna McGee April Willins Shining bright Delesia Hamlin Tracy Franklin DiamondJacks Casino in Vicksburg named Delesia Hamlin, casino operations administrative assistant, Diamond of the Quarter, and Tracy Franklin, food and beverage administrative assistant, was named Ambassador of the Quarter for the second quarter of the year. Hamlin received a designated parking space for 90 days, a day off with pay, dinner at DJ s Steakhouse along with special recognition, while Frankline received a personalized award, dinner at DJ s Steakhouse, a designated parking space and more. Honors given at Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel BILOXI Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel recently honored its top Crew Members of the Quarter for the second quarter of Nominated by their peers and supervisors, crew members are recognized for their dedication, achievements and commitment to superior guest service. After introductions and a few words about each nominee, COO Susan Varnes presented the Crew Member of the Quarter award to Jimmie Smith, transportation, and the Manager of the Quarter award to Ron Sliga, risk manager. Smith has been with Treasure Bay for more than 10 years. Jimmie was with us before Hurricane Katrina and was the first transportation crew member brought back, said Ryan Meister, director of marketing. He is great with our guests. It s evident from all the positive comment cards we receive. Jimmie is our go-to guy for all things transportation. He is dedicated, reliable, and has never missed a day of work. We are lucky to have him. Sliga has been with the company for 18 years. He does an outstanding job with our risk management and safety programs, which covers every aspect of our property. Recently, Ron took on some additional duties including Workers Compensation and Licensing. He has quickly made strides in these areas and developed strong relationships with outside agencies. Ron is a key member of our HR department and still makes time to help out in security during special events, Meister said. Nominees, including Linda Blackham, Roxie Hill, Joshua Johnson, Ashley Roberts, Melynie Tapp and Justine Wheeler, received COO Susan Varnes (center) with Crew Member of the Quarter winners Ron Sliga and Jimmie Smith. a cash award and a special gift certificate. Smith and Sliga received a cash prize, an engraved trophy, dinner for two at CQ, a day off with pay and a reserved parking space. Quarterly winners are also eligible for the Crew Member of the Year award. 12 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS AUGUST 2015

13 People In The News Hotel manager is Supervisor in the Spotlight at Gold Strike TUNICA RESORTS Alexandria Walls, assistant hotel manager, was recently named Gold Strike s Supervisor in the Spotlight for the second quarter of Cray Collins, director of hotel operations, said, Alex came to the hotel division as part of the Management Associate Program, and since her arrival she has done nothing less than give 100 percent to every endeavor she has had the privilege to participate in. She is one of the most inquisitive individuals I have ever encountered, always wanting to know how to improve the department and soliciting feedback for her own personal development. A member of the resort s Corporate Social Responsibility Council and My Green Advantage, Walls played a role in the launch and rollout of the hotel division s mentorship program at Rosa Fort Nominees for Gold Strike s Supervisor in the Spotlight include Billy Miller, Shirlene Smith, Alexandria Walls and Scott Moyes. Walls received the award. The RIGHT uniforms High School in Tunica. Nominees included Billy Miller, table games; Scott Moyes, slots; and Shirlene Smith, food and beverage. Nominees received $200, dinner for two at the Gold Strike restaurant of his or her choice, a framed certificate of recognition and a floral centerpiece. The winner received an additional $500 and two tickets to a Gold Strike headliner show of her choice. Baker honored at Beau Rivage BILOXI Beau Rivage Resort & Casino named Lacresha Punkin Jones, lead baker, as Employee of the Month for June. Jones works in the pastry shop, coming to the bakery from the stewarding Lacresha Punkin Jones department just more than a year ago. In that time, she has developed skills to move her into the lead baker position. Her supervisor called her a valuable asset and said she often works late and comes in on her days off to assist the team. Employee of the Month nominees included Sontaree Felt, table games dealer; Krisann Williams-Johnson, front desk clerk; Jerri Stringer, cage credit clerk; and Suzana Zeigler, guest experience specialist. Nominees received $200, dinner for two at the Beau Rivage restaurant of his or her choice, a floral centerpiece and a framed certificate of recognition. Jones received an additional $500, a framed certificate of recognition, a Beau Rivage jacket, a hand-blown glass sailboat and a designated parking spot for one month. MAKE for HAPPY CAMPERS AUGUST 2015 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS 13

14 People In The News Hollywood, Boomtown award employees, supervisors BAY ST. LOUIS Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast and Boomtown Casino Biloxi held a luncheon recently to honor Employees and Supervisors of the Quarter. The two property s executive team, managers and winners attended the second-quarter ceremony, held in the Cypress Ballroom at Hollywood. At Hollywood, Cast Members of the Quarter were Cassie Williams, executive office, and Larry Turner, guest safety, while Edith Benson, player services, was named Supervisor of the Quarter. Team Members of the Quarter at Boomtown were David Miller, slots, and Melissa Miller, marketing. Sandra Tootle, finance, was named Supervisor of the Quarter. Winners received a trophy, buffet and steakhouse gift certificates, a one-night hotel stay, VIP parking, an invitation to the 2015 extravaganza and $200 cash. Each recipient also received a nomination for Employee/Supervisor of the Year. Cassie Williams Larry Turner Edith Benson David Miller Melissa Miller Sandra Tootle Star employees shine at Golden Nugget Biloxi BILOXI Golden Nugget Biloxi recently announced its Star Employees of the Month for the second quarter and its Star Leadership Award of the Quarter. Star awards are given to employees recognized by their supervisors for their outstanding performance and guest service, while the Leadership Award is given to a supervisor or manager based on performance, attendance, team building and guest relations. Stephanie Jones, cage cashier, was named Employee of the Month for April. Jones has been at the property for 14 years and is considered a guest favorite as she makes an effort to remember each person she meets. Kelly Vu, poker room dealer, was named Employee of the Month for May. Vu was nominated by her supervisor because of her guest service skills. Her supervisor said Vu is always willing to help fellow employees and is efficient and creative in her job. And, Michael Bradbury, Michael Patrick s Sports Bar & Grille, was named Employee of the Month for June. Bradbury was recognized by his supervisor as someone who exhibits strong leadership skills and guest service. He was also cited for his positive attitude and strong work ethic. The Leadership Award of the Quarter was given to Brandon Sund for his work as beverage supervisor. Sund was recently promoted to beverage manager. Nominees for Employee of the Month included Edith Waltman, Ruth Lynch, Phung Truong, David Mentgen, Kim Tran, Wanda Creel, Kim Burke, Nadine Joe and Shneika Whittle. Employees of the Month each received $300, a $100 gift certificate, paid day off and a trophy. The Leadership Award winner receivedt $500, a $200 gift certificate, paid day off and a trophy. These employees will compete for the Star Employee of the Year award and attend the end-of-year banquet. Stephanie Jones Michael Bradbury Kelly Vu Brandon Sund 14 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS AUGUST 2015

15 People In The News Calvin McCoy Beau Rivage names Supervisor in the Spotlight BILOXI Beau Rivage named its second quarter Supervisor in the Spotlight of The award went to Calvin McCoy, executive room chef for the buffet. McCoy s supervisor said the room chef is passionate about all facets of his business, including the marketing aspect of keeping customers, as well as gaining new ones. McCoy also works in the community, donating his time to organizations such as the Mary C. O Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education and Loaves and Fishes. Supervisor in the Spotlight nominees included Yisell Calzadilla, housekeeping floor supervisor; Nick Harris, CRM manager; Mary Ann Paterno, cage shift supervisor; and Randy Williams, table games floor supervisor. Nominees received a number of prizes, including $200, a framed certificate of recognition and a floral centerpiece. McCoy received an additional $500 and a designated parking space for one quarter. AUGUST 2015 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS 15

16 People In The News Best of the Best awards given at Coushatta KINDER Coushatta Casino Resort named its Best of the Best for June and Salaried Professionals of the Second Quarter 2015 award winners. These associates were nominated by their peers for their exemplary job performance, going above and beyond expectations to deliver unmatched guest service. Named one of the Best of the Best were Gerald Savant, maintenance; Robert Moreno, table games; Dennis Sam, hospitality; Derrell Moreaux, golf; Crystal Fuselier, environmental services; Linda Chesson, environmental services; Charles Nevils, maintenance; Huy Nguyen, table games; Melinda Lejeune, marketing; Della Broussard, hospitality; Xaviera Kennedy, marketing; Lela Miller, security; Tina Jack, food and beverage; Gregory Beese, table games; Leah Morgan, security; Crystal Pitre, marketing; and Alexander Clarke, food and beverage. Salaried Professionals of the Second Quarter were Michael Hughes, food and beverage; Jamie Dodd, food and beverage; Melissa Lejeune, marketing; Donna Regan, food and beverage; Patsy Carpenter, security; Melinda Green, slots; Jonathan Brown, food and beverage; Linda Battise, food and beverage; Gladys Gary, food and beverage; Michelle Perkins, human tesources; and Edana Ackless, table games. Winners received a check for $200, a commemorative plaque and pin and a front-row parking pass. Team members recognized at Resorts Casino TUNICA RESORTS Resorts Casino named its Team Members Making a Difference, Supervisor of the Quarter and Manager of the Quarter. Receiving the award for Guest Service was Maria Garcia, food Best of the Best employees (above) and Salaried Professionals of the Second Quarter (below) were honored at Coushatta Casino Resort. server, while the Leadership Award went to Otha Davidson, lead security officer. Taking home the One Team Award was George Thomas, dealer. The Supervisor of the Quarter for the second quarter of the year was George Jones, security supervisor, and the Manager of the Quarter was Pamela Thomas, senior operations manager. Winners received $500 and special parking for the quarter. Maria Garcia Otha Davidson George Thomas George Jones Pamela Thomas 16 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS AUGUST 2015

17 People In The News Tops at Harlow s Silver Slipper Casino s General Manager John Ferrucci (center) congratulates the Employee of the Month and Supervisor/Manager of the Month nominees and winners. Harlow s General Manager Greg Hinton (back row, left) congratulates top employees, including Sandra Wilkins (front, left), dual rate supervisor, for receiving the internal guest service award; Donnell Corbin, dealer, named Rookie of the Quarter; Martell Smith, property chef, Team Leader of the Quarter; Larry Clark, F&B busser, Builder of the Quarter; and Nashonna Wilson, steakhouse server, who received the external guest service award. Not pictured is Scenephrene Kemp, EVS attendant, who was also named Rookie of the Quarter. Silver Slipper names best in June HANCOCK COUNTY Silver Slipper Casino recognized its June Employee of the Month and Supervisor/Manager of the Month nominees and winners during a recent luncheon held in the Blue Bayou Bar & Grill. Darrin Acker, buffet, and Alvin Parker, slots, were named Employees of the Month, and Shirlene Zoerner, cafe shift supervisor II, was named Supervisor/Manager of the Month. Acker was recognized for never missing a beat in his stocking duties while routinely assisting his team members. He is a team player who goes above and beyond to make sure his team is successful. Parker was cited for his customer service, teamwork, professionalism, and dedication, skills that were vital in a recent audit and upgrade. Parker and his team made sure the slot machines were up and running while taking care of guests during the transition. Called dedicated and compassionate, Zoerner s priority is in getting the job done. She ensures her staff knows their job duties and provides an open door for any assistance they may need. Also nominated for the employees honors were Dale Strang, slots; Martin Navarro, buffet sous chef; Opel Pursley, beverage; Lynn Rice, slot shift manager II; and Iris Willis, slots. Nominees and winners receive prizes, including cash and gift certificates. Winners from each month become eligible for the title of Employee of the Year. AUGUST 2015 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS 17

18 Anniversary donation Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport celebrated its 10th anniversary in Shreveport-Bossier in July. Along with cash giveaways, birthday cake and champagne, the celebration included a donation made to Shriners Hospitals for Children- Sheveport. Fez-adorned Shriners and El Karubah clowns were on hand to accept the $10,000 gift from General Manager Mike Whitemaine. On behalf of Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport, I would like to thank the community for 10 amazing years. We attribute our success to our guests continued loyalty, and we truly appreciate our incredible team members. Many have been with us for all 10 years, and it s their hard work and dedication to world-class service that makes Eldorado the premier resort casino in the area. We look forward to the next 10 years in Shreveport-Bossier, Whitemaine said. Birthday barbecue Pearl River Resort celebrated the 21st anniversary of its Silver Star Hotel and Casino in July. The food and beverage team prepared a barbecue meal for associates on July 3-4, and as an added bonus, a ceremonial cake cutting was held on both days. Eighth anniversary Celebrating 21 Hard Rock celebrated its eighth anniversary on July 7. Employees were given the opportunity to wear a Hard Rock logo shirt and jeans for a $5 donation to the American Heart Association. Additionally, employees who opened the property received an eight-year anniversary pin. The pin, which looks like an eight ball, was given to 263 employees. Boomtown Casino Biloxi marked its 21st anniversary in July. The celebration included T-shirts, cupcakes and casino specials for guests and T-shirts and sweets for employees. The Back Bay casino opened in MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS AUGUST 2015

19 Contributions & Donations Hollywood Tunica raises money for Relay for Life TUNICA RESORTS Hollywood Casino Tunica participated in the American Cancer Society s Relay For Life of DeSoto County recently and proved to be the most successful to date of all Penn National properties involved in the benefit event. At a July luncheon honoring the employee fundraising efforts, it was announced that Hollywood Tunica had raised more than $12,500 in the effort. Clay Collins, finance, was the top fundraiser at Hollywood Tunica, bringing in $900, and was the fourth among all participants at Penn National properties (211 employees signed up for the Penn Relay for Life effort). Overall, Penn properties have raised more than $74,400 this year. Penn will also be matching $20,000 in donations, distributing the money to properties based on a percentage of property fundraising amounts once all efforts are completed in August. Along with Collins and Hollywood Tunica General Manager Steve Lambert, participants at the Relay for Life event and the luncheon included Darren Whitten and Angela Black, casino operations; Patricia Presley, cage; Cynthia Powell, count; Natalie Carlson and Tyrone Myrick, marketing; Lena Wortham, Kaye Strickland, Andrea Sueing and Nadia Gates-Brazell, human resources; Lynn Benton and Marilyn Williams security; Regina Davis and Darryl Anderson, I.T.; Charmaine Wright, surveillance; and Josh Whitsell, Shay Nolan and Michael Johnson, facilities. Whitney Merida (top, center), DeSoto Relay for Life, was on hand to accept a donation check from Hollywood Casino Tunica General Manager Steve Lambert at the American Cancer Society s Relay for Life. Merida also joined with Hollywood employees at a luncheon held to honor the resort s fundraising efforts. L Auberge has heart L Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles was a sponsor of the American Heart Association s 15th Annual Southwest Louisiana Heart Ball in May. As a sponsor, L Auberge Casino Resort donated $6,500 cash and in-kind to regional chapter of the AHA, which is committed to improving the lives of Americans through health education, volunteerism and more. L Auberge executives (from left) Stephanie Miller-Vincent, director of food and beverage; Jackie St. Romain, vice president of human resources; and Keith W. Henson, senior vice president and general manager; are pictured with Susan Percle, American Heart Association regional director. Still fabulous After winning the 2015 Lose for a Cause weight-loss competition at Harrah s Gulf Coast, the members of the Fabulous 5 team have not slowed down. The five food and beverage employees delivered 275 pounds of food to the Back Bay Mission in Biloxi. Harrah s employees lost a total of pounds in the competition, and selected the mission to donate an equal amount of canned and non-perishable goods. Pictured with Jill Cartledge (front, left), Back Bay Mission s emergency assistance caseworker, are Christy Fox, steward; Shirley Maclin, executive steward; (back, left) Reshonda Lawrence, food runner; Lidoshan Ashford, food runner; and Jackie Bledsoe, sous chef. Over the Edge More than $113,000 was raised recently to benefit Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast through an Over The Edge urban rappelling fundraising event held at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. A limited number of participants, including Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, rappelled down the side of the Biloxi resort, the tallest building in the state. Viewers watched from the sixth floor of the Beau parking lot and enjoyed refreshments that were served. AUGUST 2015 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS 19

20 Contributions & Donations Hollywood hosts annual Red Cross blood drive BAY ST. LOUIS Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast gave area residents a chance to Be Somebody s Hero by hosting the first day of the 27th Annual Media for Red Cross Blood Drive on June 24. Hollywood Casino received 115 donors and collected 92 units of blood. Each unit of blood can potentially save up to three lives, which means that the blood collected at Hollywood could possibly save up to 276 lives. My blood could potentially be what it takes to save someone s life, said Derek Halton, a steward at the Bay St. Louis casino. A secondtime donor, Halton s attitude underscores the Be Somebody s Hero Red Cross blood drive campaign slogan. There are people in need of blood transfusions and I am just glad that I can help, he said. Hollywood donors received commemorative T-shirts and a Chick-fil-A voucher and were entered into a drawing for prizes. Derek Halton steps up to be a blood donor at Hollywood Casino. Baking for PAWS Beautiful music Ameristar Casino in Vicksburg teamed up with PAWS Rescue to help raise money to shelter homeless animals. The Ameristar bakery made gourmet dog treats and team members had fun packaging them for the dogs to enjoy. PAWS Rescue will sell the dog treats throughout the year at various events to raise money. L Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles, the Silver Sponsor for the Lake Charles Symphony, donated $7,500 in cash and in-kind to the organization. L Auberge Senior Vice President and General Manager Keith W. Henson presented a check to Karen Drewett, Lake Charles Symphony Board president. The Lake Charles Symphony is committed to enhancing the cultural life of Southwest Louisiana through their high quality performances. 20 MISSISSIPPI/LOUISIANA GAMING NEWS AUGUST 2015

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