Published at 12:09 p.m., December 12, 2022.
Updated December 12, 2022 at 12:52 p.m.
Atlantic City will celebrate 45 years of legalized gambling on the New Jersey beaches. That came by way of the state’s 1977 passage of the Casino Control Act.
A panel hosted by Stockton University’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism discusses 45 years of legal casino gambling in Atlantic City on Dec. 8, 2022. Lynne Kaufman is center. She believes there should be more women in the Atlantic City casino leadership. Stockton University.
To commemorate the historic gaming bill, Stockton University’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism (LIGHT) hosted a conversation featuring industry leaders to discuss the past, present, and future of Atlantic City’s casino industry. One matter raised was ongoing concerns with the industry’s lackluster track record of having women and minorities run the town’s gaming resorts.
Lynne Kaufman, a prominent gaming lawyer in Atlantic City and across the Mid-Atlantic region and Northeast is an example of this. A partner at Cooper Levenson who co-chairs the law firm’s gaming practice, Kaufman had a major point during the December 8 roundtable: the industry is still failing when it comes to promoting diverse people to chief executive capacities.
None of Atlantic City’s nine casinos are currently run by women. A majority of the resorts are run by white men and have no minority leaders. That’s a change from just a few years ago.
Better Leadership, Better Returns?
Kaufman is an attorney who has been working in the gaming sector since 1988. Cooper Levenson brought her on board in 1998. She has advised various gaming interests from Atlantic City ever since. Kaufman has also worked in other commercial gaming states, most critically in Pennsylvania, where she consulted state lawmakers in 2017 during the commonwealth’s vast gaming expansion.
Kaufman believes Atlantic City might have the potential to attract more diverse leaders.
Why aren’t more women CEOs? We need more of them,” Kaufman questioned.
Atlantic City casinos will continue to try to draw gamblers from the New Jersey coast. It’s a challenging endeavor that has become more cumbersome over the decades as gaming has expanded into the nearby states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York.
Kaufman believes allowing women and diverse executives to tailor an Atlantic City resort’s operation could make the properties more appealing.
“If you hire more diverse people at the top that represent your customers, you’re going to get a better product,” Kaufman opined.
Atlantic City Backtrack
Atlantic City casino CEO offices weren’t always so male and white. In the fall of 2020, four of the nine casinos were led by women — with two, Melonie Johnson at Borgata and Jacqueline Grace at Tropicana — identifying as African Americans.
Johnson made a return to MGM National Harbor Maryland in January this year. Grace started a new job in New York as a property manager in September.
Atlantic City’s two other former female chief executives — Terry Glebocki at Ocean Casino and Karie Hall at Bally’s — have also since departed Atlantic City.
Glebocki resigned after the Boardwalk property’s ownership arrangement was reconfigured in October 2021. After Caesars Entertainment sold Bally’s in 2020, Hall transitioned to a special projects role with Caesars before deciding to move west to spearhead the operations of Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Harveys Lake Tahoe in Nevada.