MGM Sacks Four Presidents

The coronavirus pandemic hit home for may high level and corporate executives last week as Station Casinos slashed property and corporate executives, while MGM Resorts let go four presidents of their Las Vegas properties, including longtime leader at New York-New York Cindy Kiser Murphey (l.).

MGM Sacks Four Presidents

For the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, high level gaming executives have been let go.

The Las Vegas Review Journal last week reported the four presidents of MGM Resorts Las Vegas Strip properties would not return. The newspaper cited sources as saying that Randy Morton of Bellagio, Cindy Kiser Murphey of New York-New York, Cliff Atkinson of Luxor and Eric Fitzgerald of Excalibur were laid off. 

MGM Acting President & CEO Bill Hornbuckle last week said that New York-New York and Bellagio would be the first two properties to reopen when the date is finalized, with other properties to follow.

The source said that other senior level management were also dismissed.  The action was a part of the reorganization of senior management for MGM across the country, and didn’t stop with the leaders. Vice presidents in charge of marketing, slot operations, hospitality and many other areas were also dismissed. Some see the moves more as a part of a overall overhaul of MGM senior management, rather than a reaction to the current coronavirus process. The layoffs affected all MGM U.S. properties.

While MGM has already laid off some 63,000 workers nationwide, the latest layoffs were the first at the upper levels of management.  

Over the weekend, MGM announced the revised lineup of property presidents and top executives, responsible for more than one of the MGM properties on the Strip:

Bellagio and Park MGM/NoMad:
Anton Nikodemus, President
Franz Kallao, SVP of Hospitality
Doug Sandoval, CFO

ARIA and Vdara:
Steve Zanella, President
Mark Lefever, CFO

Mandalay Bay/Delano and Luxor:
Chuck Bowling, President
Kevin Holyfield, VP Hospitality
Heith Bettelman, CFO

MGM Grand Las Vegas and New York-New York:
Mike Neubecker, President
Patrick Miller, SVP Hospitality
Mark Czerniak, CFO

The Mirage and Excalibur:
Nik Rytterstrom, President
Jeff Segan, VP Hospitality
Sarah Rogers, CFO

The regional properties will be headed up by Jorge Perez, the president of MGM National Harbor. Reporting to him will be Melonie Johnson, the former head of National Harbor and now president of Atlantic City’s Borgata. Johnson replaces Marcus Glover, who joined Borgata in 2017.  Chris Kelley is in charge of MGM Springfield and Empire City in Yonkers, New York. Travis Lunn heads up Mississippi’s Beau Rivage and Gold Strike. And David Tsai will be president of MGM Midwest, which includes MGM Grand Detroit and MGM Northfield Park in Ohio.

Just the day before the MGM announcement, Station Casinos revealed that it has begun executive cuts as well, both at the property and corporate levels.

“We have tried to retain our entire team, but in the face of this continued uncertainty we can no longer do so,” CEO and Chairman Frank Fertitta III said in a letter sent to staff last week.

Fertitta said that the company would open several properties in phases once the opening date is announced. Red Rock Resort, Green Valley Ranch Resort, Santa Fe, Boulder Station, Palace Station, Sunset Station and the company’s Wildfire casinos are likely to be first out of the gate. After those openings are evaluated, the Palms, Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station may ramp up, but it depends upon business, says Fertitta.  Significant layoffs should be expected at those second phase properties, he said.

“When we are permitted to reopen, we don’t know what business will look like,” Fertitta said, “other than knowing that business levels will be lower as a result of this unprecedented crisis.”

“This has been the most challenging and painful situation in our company’s history,” Fertitta wrote in the letter. “We are hopeful though that Las Vegas will rebound swiftly and allow us to rehire many of our valued team members when we emerge on the other side of this crisis.”