Trump Entertainment Resorts replacing CEO Juliano

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - September 28, 2010

The Atlantic City casino company announced Tuesday it will replace him with Robert Griffin, president and CEO of MTR Gaming Group Inc., which owns casinos in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

He is expected to take over in late October or early November. Marc Lasry, Trump Entertainment's board chairman, praised Griffin as "an experienced gaming executive with extensive knowledge of the industry and hands-on operational experience."

"We thank Mark Juliano for his substantial contributions to the company over the last few years," said Lasry, who gained control of the company during the most recent bankruptcy that was filed in Feb. 2009. "The steady hand Mark provided as CEO during the company's successful reorganization helped position us well for the future."

Juliano did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

He also serves as president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, the industry's trade association and had become the de facto face of the casino industry in New Jersey at a time when it is besieged by competition in neighboring states, the continuing poor economy and demands from the state's racetracks that they be allowed to install slot machines.

It was not immediately clear who would succeed him in that role. Trump Entertainment operates three Atlantic City casinos: Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Trump Marina Hotel Casino, and the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.

It is now owned primarily by New York-based Avenue Capital Group. Donald Trump owns 10 percent of the company.

"Mark was a wonderful guy, and we think the new CEO will do a fine job as well," Trump told The Associated Press. "They (the board) just felt it was time to do something new."

Juliano's exit marks a near-complete change of top management at the company, which in recent weeks has seen the exodus of high-ranking executives exercising buyout clauses in their contracts that were activated by a change in ownership.

The bankruptcy eliminated $1.3 billion worth of debt that had been choking the company.

Griffin's current company, MTR Gaming, owns Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in Chester, W.Va., Presque Isle Downs & Casino near Erie, Pa., and Scioto Downs in Columbus, Ohio.

"Trump Entertainment Resorts has a great brand and strong properties, with many promising business opportunities," Griffin said. "The company has a solid platform for future growth and profitability, and I am very excited to be joining as CEO."

Griffin, 51, has 30 years of experience in the casino and hospitality business. He also has roots in his new company, having held senior management positions at Trump Marina from 1992 to 1998. Juliano joined Trump Entertainment in Aug. 2005 as chief operating officer and became CEO two years later.

He presided over the construction of the company's $255 million, 782-room Chairman Tower at the Taj Mahal in Sept. 2008, the centerpiece of the company's efforts to add new upscale hotel rooms and compete with market leaders including the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, both of which had recently opened new hotel additions.

Don Marrandino, eastern division president of Harrah's Entertainment Inc., is a possible successor to Juliano as the casino association's chief.

"Mark has been one of the area's best homegrown assets," said Marrandino, whose company owns four of Atlantic City's 11 casinos. "He has been a tremendous advocate for the city. His presence will be missed."

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