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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Shuffle Master to replace CEO

3 February 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- After an 18-month search, gambling equipment provider Shuffle Master announced Monday that veteran casino executive Tim Parrott would replace Chief Executive Officer Mark Yoseloff in March.

Yoseloff, 61, who stepped down as the Las Vegas-based gaming company's chairman of the board last year, will help Parrott during a transition period.

Yoseloff headed Shuffle Master for 12 years. In a statement, the company said Yoseloff would not seek re-election to the board of directors and would retire after a short period as a part-time employee.

Parrott has more than 20 years experience in the gaming industry. He most recently served as the president and CEO of the American subsidiary for Australian slot machine maker Aristocrat Technologies Inc. He left that position late last year.

Prior to joining Aristocrat, Parrott was chairman and CEO of a Las Vegas-based production company and he spent 10 years as the chairman and CEO of Boomtown, which merged with Pinnacle Entertainment in 1998.

"Given his proven track record of success and deep gaming expertise, I believe Tim is the clear choice for the future leadership needs of our company," Yoseloff said in a statement.

The move culminates a nearly two-year change in management for Shuffle Master, which provides casinos with table games, including Let it Ride, Three Card Poker and Caribbean Stud; and table game management products, such as automated card shufflers.

In December 2007, the company announced it was conducting a search for a new CEO.

In 2007, Shuffle Master took a financial hit after the company spent $108 million to acquire an Australian slot machine maker. In addition, the company had to restate earnings because of an internal accounting error and Shuffle Master's stock price lost roughly 75 percent of its value.

The company has also suffered during the current economic downturn. Over the past 52 weeks, shares of Shuffle Master have traded between a high of $10.24 to a low of $2.50. Last month Shuffle Master reported a fiscal fourth-quarter loss, hurt mostly by a charge related to its electronic table systems.

"We continue to believe that the worst is behind Shuffle Master and while this turnaround story will take time to play out, we believe the shares have either found a bottom or are close to it," Stifel Nicolaus gaming analyst Steven Wieczynski told investors Monday. The analyst also thought the CEO change would help Shuffle Master bring aboard an experienced chief financial officer.

The positon has been vacant since September 2007.

Macquarie Capital gaming analyst Joel Simkins thought Shuffle Master's stock price, which closed at $3.19 on the Nasdaq National Market Monday, down 20 cents or 5.90 percent, could be lifted by the news.

"We still recommend that investors stay on the sidelines given our view that demand for many of Shuffle's core products may remain soft in the current environment," Simkins said in an investors note.