A top Las Vegas gambling executive, who started his career 30 years ago as an Atlantic City craps dealer, is returning to the East Coast to take charge of the casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp.
Rick Mazer will oversee the Bally's, Caesars, Harrah's Resort and Showboat casinos in Atlantic City as well as the Harrah's Philadelphia racetrack casino in Chester, Pa., company spokesman Gary Thompson said Monday.
Additionally, Mazer will direct the company's efforts to develop a $1 billion casino resort in East Boston, Thompson said. Caesars Entertainment has partnered with Suffolk Downs in the competition to build the one casino allowed in the Greater Boston area under Massachusetts' 2011 casino law.
Most recently, Mazer has been serving as president of the Harrah's, Flamingo and Quad casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment on the Las Vegas Strip. His duties have also included overseeing a $550 million redevelopment project that will transform part of the Strip with new upscale retail shops, trendy restaurants and an observation wheel soaring 550 feet high.
Caesars Entertainment, the world's largest casino company, controls about 40 percent of the Atlantic City market through its four seaside resort casinos. Mazer's job will be to revitalize those casinos, which have suffered declining revenue and lower profits amid Atlantic City's seven-year slump caused by the fragile economy and gambling competition in surrounding states.
One of Mazer's top responsibilities will be to supervise a $126 million conference center under construction at Harrah's Resort. The project will allow Harrah's and Atlantic City to grab a larger share of the $16 billion conventions and meetings market in the Northeast. Currently, Atlantic City is capturing only about 1 percent of that market. The new conference center, which at 250,000 square feet will be the biggest of its type in the Northeast, will allow Atlantic City to tap into the feeder markets of New York and Philadelphia.
Before heading out to Las Vegas, Mazer served as a casino executive in the Midwest for about 15 years. He gained experience in directing major projects when he served as general manager of the Horseshoe Hammond casino in northwestern Indiana, about 15 minutes from downtown Chicago. While he was running the casino, the Horseshoe Hammond underwent a $500 million makeover.
"Originally, it was a regional casino and he turned it into one of the most popular casinos in the Midwest," Thompson said of Mazer's tenure at the Horseshoe Hammond.
Mazer has worked his way through the ranks since starting his career in the 1980s as a craps dealer at Caesars during the early days of Atlantic City's casino gambling era.
"Internally, he's best known as being a great boss and for having a great relationship with employees," Thompson said. "He's a very personable, down-to-earth guy."
For now, Mazer will hold the titles of senior vice president and general manager. Thompson said Caesars Entertainment may eventually name Mazer as president of its Eastern Division. Caesars has not had an Eastern Division president since the departure of Don Marrandino in January. Marrandino, who had directed the Atlantic City casinos since 2009, left for undisclosed reasons.
This is not the first time Mazer has replaced Marrandino. When Marrandino took over in Atlantic City four years ago, Mazer stepped in to run the Las Vegas casinos Marrandino formerly headed.
Mazer's appointment as senior vice president and general manager is pending New Jersey regulatory approval. The state Casino Control Commission is scheduled to vote Thursday on a temporary license for Mazer. He will have to undergo New Jersey's standard background checks before he is issued a full license.
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