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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

New Exec to Head Harrah's LV, Flamingo

25 August 2005

LAS VEGAS -- A former Hard Rock hotel and casino executive who courted the Gen-X crowd with A-list rock bands and eclectic restaurants has been named president of the Harrah's Las Vegas and Flamingo casinos, a new position at Harrah's Entertainment Inc.

Don Marrandino, who has led the company's Harrah's, Harveys and Bill's casinos in Lake Tahoe and its Harrah's property in Reno for the past two years, said he looks forward to the Strip promotion and hopes to breathe new life into the Flamingo.

"I've had 15 great years in Vegas and two great years in Tahoe -- I've learned a lot here," Marrandino said. "I hope to reposition the Flamingo into more of a fun and festive place. The Flamingo is a great name ... but I don't think it's the destination in Las Vegas."

Marrandino was executive vice president and general manager of Wynn Las Vegas before the property opened and previously served as president and chief operating officer for the Hard Rock and as the manager of Station Casinos' properties on the east side of the Las Vegas Valley.

In Lake Tahoe, Marrandino spiced up Harrah's properties by adding bars and an adult revue.

"I can always add energy to a property," Marrandino said. "Harrah's is a structured company that is anxious to try new things within a controlled (environment). I have no preconceived notions and look forward to learning."

He replaces Marilyn Winn, former general manager of Harrah's Las Vegas and the Rio. Winn was named president of the Paris, Bally's and Rio properties after Harrah's bought Caesars Entertainment Inc. in June. Caesars owned Caesars Palace, Paris, Bally's and the Flamingo on the Strip.

John Koster, formerly senior vice president and general manager of Harrah's Laughlin, will succeed Marrandino as president of Harrah's Northern Nevada division.

Wade Faul, assistant general manager for Flamingo Las Vegas, will lead Harrah's Laughlin as senior vice president and general manager.

All will report to Tom Jenkin, president of Harrah's Western Division. The three executive promotions are subject to regulatory approval.

Koster was general manager of Harrah's Laughlin from 2002 to 2004 and vice president of hotel operations for Harrah's Las Vegas from 1999 to 2002. Faul has been a Harrah's executive for 20 years, beginning as a dealer at Harrah's Las Vegas and working his way up to assistant general manager of that property. He later served as assistant general manager of the Flamingo.