Mark Frissora Given Approval by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission
Mark Frissora, the new CEO of Caesars Entertainment, has received approval by the Casino Control Commission of New Jersey to operate inside the state. The decision came in a 3-0 vote of the Casino Control Commission.
Mr. Frissora did not attend the council meeting. The new CEO has not addressed yet his plans for the 3 Caesars casinos in Atlantic City: Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s, and Bally’s. The former Hertz chief executive is still moving into his new position in the Las Vegas-based gaming company, which was announced last week.
Mark Frissora is replacing Gary Loveman, who has been the CEO of Caesars Entertainment since 2003, when the company still was named Harrah’s Entertainment.
More Steps to Take
The gaming executive still has a couple of hurdles to clear before he is finally able to operate. One, he will need to pass a standard personal background check. For such a public figure, that is likely to be a formality.
Two, Frissora will need final approval of his New Jersey casino license. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement will decide on the status of the casino license, though all of New Jersey’s gaming regulators are likely to want to hear about Frissora’s ideas. Because Caesars Entertainment owns 3 of the remaining 8 casinos operating in Atlantic City, the troubled gaming company is a key factor in the future of the destination resort city.
While the council members say they are eager to hear from the new head of Caesars Entertainment, but did not imply his appearance before them was necessary in any way to obtain his gaming license.
Matthen Levinson on Caesars CEO
Matthew Levinson, the head of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, said he looks forward to hearing from Mark Frissora. Levinson told ABC News, “I would love to hear his ideas for Atlantic City. We all want to see Atlantic City move along on the path to success and increase its revenue. We want to see more investment in the Caesars properties, as well as all of the properties on the Boardwalk and in Atlantic City.”
The Control Commission is not the only one with whom the new chief executive officer is not speaking. Though Frissora had been asked to give a few words to the gaming media about his new position, the CEO’s lawyer said he “wants to get his bearings a little more” before addressing the media.
Reasons for Non-Attendance
It is understandable that Mark Frissora has not had the time to interact with New Jersey regulators and media members, and instead sent his lawyer. This is the first week Frissora has been with Caesars Entertainment and the company’s headquarters are 2,500 miles away in Las Vegas.
Also, the company faces a bankruptcy lawsuit with junior shareholders, who are unhappy with the bankruptcy plan that was approved by the first lienholders. Given the introduction to his own staff and the various other needs, a New Jersey trip was not likely.
Frissora is still months away from taking over full duties as the chief executive officer, a change which will not happen until June 30. For the time being, he sits in on board meetings. Gary Loveman, the departing CEO, remains as the company’s chairman.
When he does take over, Mark Frissora is likely to face a long and complicated lawsuit with shareholders. Last month, a lawsuit was filed to stop the reorganization of the Caesars Entertainment Operations Company, which is a division of the gaming company. CEOC holds over $18 billion of the $23 billion of Caesars’ debt.
The 59-year old gaming executive will receive a base salary of $1.8 million per year, along with a target bonus of $2.7 million, according to a bureaucratic filing. The executive was the CEO of Hertz Rental Cars from 2006 until September 2014. During that time, he oversaw the acquisition of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group in 2012. When he took over Hertz, the company was saddled with billions of dollars of debt, much like Caesars Entertainment.
Frissora’s task with Caesars Entertainment is likely to be even tougher than his job at Hertz. The US gaming industry is saturated in many locations, due to the influx of private and tribal gaming interests in 40 states. Just 25 years ago, the United States had only 2 states with casino gambling: Nevada and New Jersey. Atlantic City has not been able to reconcile its gaming industry to the new facts on the ground, because the city’s east coast gaming monopoly is long since over.
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