Don Marrandino’s departure from Caesars Entertainment Corp. has temporarily left Atlantic City’s casino-funded marketing coalition without a chairman.
The Atlantic City Alliance’s seven-member board, made up exclusively of casino executives, may name a new chairman when it meets on Jan. 22.
With Marrandino now gone, the four Caesars Entertainment casinos in Atlantic City will be represented on the ACA board by John Smith, general manager of Harrah’s Resort.
Liza Cartmell, president of the alliance, said the chairman oversees the meetings and acts as a spokesman for the group, but holds no more power than any other board member.
“It’s very much an equal seat at the table,” Cartmell said.
Despite Marrandino’s departure, Cartmell expressed confidence that the alliance will be able to continue its mission in 2013. It is not yet clear who is likely to succeed Marrandino as chairman.
However, Cartmell noted that board members Tony Rodio and Bob Griffin are already tied up with extra duties on behalf of the casino industry and will not take the ACA’s chairmanship.
Rodio, chief executive officer of Tropicana Casino and Resort, also serves as president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, an industry trade group. Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, serves as one of the two gambling industry representatives on the board of the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, or CRDA
Kevin DeSanctis, CEO of Revel, Atlantic City’s newest casino, is the other industry representative on the CRDA. DeSanctis is expected to join the Atlantic City Alliance board this year, but his CRDA membership will probably preclude him from being the ACA’s new chairman, Cartmell said.
Casinos annually contribute $30 million to the alliance for marketing, advertising, promotional events and other projects benefiting Atlantic City. The alliance made a splash in 2012 with the launch of the $20 million “Do AC” publicity campaign, aimed at drawing tourists to Atlantic City from the Northeast.
Cartmell praised Marrandino as one of the biggest supporters of the alliance during its formative months. The private, nonprofit organization works closely with the CRDA to promote Atlantic City tourism.
“He was one of the earliest and most significant cheerleaders of the ACA,” Cartmell said of Marrandino.
She also called Marrandino an “exceptional marketer” who immediately recognized the alliance’s potential to promote the city and expand its customer base.
“I truly believe people with vision can make a difference. ... I felt Don had that vision,” Cartmell said.
Marrandino served for three years as president of the Bally’s, Caesars, Harrah’s Resort and Showboat casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment. The company announced Friday that Marrandino had left to “pursue new opportunities,” but gave no other details. Once he stepped down from Caesars Entertainment, he lost his seat on the ACA’s board.