Gaming and hospitality giant Caesars Entertainment has officially named Tony Rodio its new CEO, confirming what many expected to happen based on a weekend report in the Wall Street Journal. Rodio is currently the CEO of Affinity Gaming, a regional operator of nearly a dozen casinos across the western and midwestern United States. He will take the Casesars reins sometime over the next 30 days. Outgoing CEO Mark Frissora announced last November he was stepping down, and he was due to depart officially by the end of this month.
"Tony brings to Caesars a track record of operational excellence, proven leadership and deep industry knowledge and expertise," said James Hunt, Caesars' board chairman. "Tony is a respected and highly accomplished executive who has successfully built and grown businesses in our industry throughout his career. We are confident that Tony has the vision and depth of operating experience to lead our talented senior management team as Caesars continues its long history of delighting our guests, fostering a welcoming and rewarding workplace for our team members, and creating value for shareholders and other stakeholders. Our entire board looks forward to his leadership in evaluating and executing the company's go-forward plans."
Rodio's appointment and those go-forward plans were pushed for by gaming magnate and Caesars shareholder Carl Icahn, who has been publicly pressuring Casesars to sell the company as a way to increase shareholder value. The Caesars board simultaneously announced the creation of a transaction committee to explore the best options for the company moving forward. Reported potential suitors to acquire Caesars include Tilman Fertitta, owner of the Golden Nugget Casino and the NBA's Houston Rockets, and Eldorado Resorts, which owns and operates nearly 30 casinos across the United States.
Rodio has worked in the gaming industry for nearly four decades. Before his run at Affinity, he was president and CEO of Tropicana Entertainment, which was owned by Icahn. Earlier, he worked in various roles for both Hollywood Casino and Harrah's Entertainment. (Harrah's purchased Caesars in 2005, and the company took the Caesars name five years later.)
"I have long admired Caesars and am optimistic about the company's future prospects," said Rodio. "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."
The transaction committee, comprised of board members Thomas Benninger, Keith Cozza, Don Kornstein and Courtney Mather, will evaluate all options for Caesars, including continuing to operate as an independent company.