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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Pinnacle Entertainment names new CEO

15 March 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Former Harrah's Entertainment executive Anthony Sanfilippo has been named president and chief executive officer of regional casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment, the company announced Monday.

Sanfilippo, 51, replaces interim CEO John Giovenco, who had been operating the Las Vegas-based company since November. Giovenco will continue to serve on Pinnacle's board of directors.

Sanfilippo, who was also named to the company's board of directors, spent more than 25 years with Harrah's, managing and developing casinos in regional markets, including Louisiana, Missouri, and Indiana where Pinnacle operates resorts. He also worked for Harrah's in Nevada.

Since June 2008, Sanfilippo served as CEO of Multimedia Games, a gaming equipment provider.

Pinnacle announced that Sanfilippo is purchasing 125,000 shares of the company's common stock at $8.64 per share, which was the closing price on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

"A majority of his compensation is linked to Pinnacle's future performance," the company said in a statement.

"Our priority will be to fully leverage the portfolio of quality regional gaming properties that Pinnacle possesses with a commitment to offering a world-class guest experience in order to capture increasing share of this demand," Sanfilippo said in a statement.

At Harrah's, Sanfilippo was president of Harrah's central and western divisions, overseeing the operations of more than two dozen casinos. Sanfilippo was also involved in Harrah's growth, including the acquisitions of Horseshoe Casinos, the Grand Casino & Hotel brand, Players International and the Louisiana Downs racetrack.

Sanfilippo was also president Harrah's New Orleans.

In addition, Richard Goeglein was named Pinnacle's permanent board chairman. Goeglein had been interim board chairman since November.

Dan Lee, Pinnacle's former chairman and CEO, resigned in November after a public dispute with a St. Louis elected official.