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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Affinity Gaming CEO David Ross leaving company in July

11 February 2014

LAS VEGAS -- Affinity Gaming CEO David Ross will leave the casino operator in July, the company announced Monday.

Ross, 49, has headed Affinity since the Las Vegas-based company was founded in December 2010 following the bankruptcy reorganization of Herbst Gaming.

Ross oversaw a restructuring of Affinity, which included the sale of several casinos. It also included sale of the company’s slot machine route operation to Golden Gaming, Inc. Affinity also acquired three casinos in Colorado as part of the Golden Gaming transaction.

Affinity operates 11 casinos in Nevada, Iowa, Colorado and Missouri. In Nevada, Affinity owns the three Primm resorts, the off-Strip Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino and the Rail City Casino in Sparks.

Ross managed the company’s name change from Herbst Gaming to Affinity Gaming.

Affinity’s board will form a search committee to find Ross’ successor. Chairman Richard Parisi and board member Thomas Benninger will oversee the process.

Ross, who had previously worked for Coast Casinos and Boyd Gaming Corp., also resigned from Affinity’s board of directors last week.

“There wasn’t any disagreement with the company or management,” Ross said Monday. “My management agreement was expiring and it seemed like a natural inflection.”

Ross is expected to remain on until a new CEO is named.

In a statement, Parisi thanked Ross for “stabilizing operations and getting the company back on track as it emerged from bankruptcy.”

Ross joined the company in May 2009, two months after Herbst Gaming filed for bankruptcy reorganization. He was brought in by the company’s creditors and reported to the board of directors. He became CEO when the reorganization was finalized.

Ross said Monday he doesn’t have another job lined up and is looking forward to taking some time away from the business. Affinity, he said, has been positioned to capitalize on growth opportunities.

“During my time at Affinity, we restructured our balance sheet, sold off non-core properties and have diversified our asset base from a largely Nevada-based casino and slot route operator into a well-capitalized and solidly positioned regional casino operator,” Ross said.

The move comes six weeks after Affinity board member Don Kornstein resigned from the company. Kornstein had been chairman since the bankruptcy reorganization was finalized. But last July, Parisi, a senior investment professional with Connecticut-based hedge fund Silver Point Capital, was named board chairman.

Silver Point Capital is Affinity’s second-largest shareholder with a 24.9 percent stake in the company. Private equity firm Z Capital Partners of Illinois is Affinity’s largest shareholder, controlling 30.5 percent. Affinity is not publicly traded, but has publicly owned debt.