Foxwoods Resort Casino President and CEO John J. James abruptly resigned his job Tuesday after just eight months. The Connecticut tribal property is shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic.
News of the departure was announced in a statement from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council. His departure is “effective immediately.”
John has left his position to spend more time with his family,” the statement said. Details on the reason why he is leaving were not provided and James was not immediately available for comment.
In a statement to employees, it was added that James, 59, “left his position to spend more time with his family and focus on his overall health and wellness in a time that it is critically important for all of us to do,” The Day newspaper reported.
Foxwoods has about 5,000 employees. The Connecticut Mirror reported the venue costs approximately $10 million a week to operate. Beyond salaries, it includes payments on the casino’s $2 billion debt and 25 percent of the gross gaming revenue it pays the state of Connecticut, the report adds.
James Is Veteran Gaming Executive
When James was hired, he had multiple challenges ahead, including an increasingly competitive Northeast gambling market and declining slot revenue.
Before coming to Foxwoods, James spent some 25 years in the gaming and hospitality sectors. For five years, James was chief operating officer of the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, California.
Earlier, he was CEO at Gila River Gaming Enterprises, where he led the tribe’s three casinos, and under his watch, got record earnings in Arizona. He was also a top executive at Seminole Gaming and Pechanga Resort and Casino, and previously was a vice president and general manager at Station Casinos venues in Las Vegas.
Guyot Named Interim CEO
Jason Guyot, who is senior vice president of resort operations at Foxwoods, was named the property’s interim CEO, the statement said. Tribal officials are searching for a permanent replacement.
The tribal statement also referenced the COVID-19 outbreak and eventual reopening.
The Tribal Council believes that, together with our talented executive team, Foxwoods will continue to focus on managing through the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis and the re-opening of our facilities at an appropriate time in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of the members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, our Team Members, and the public as a whole,” the statement said.
Foxwoods closed its operations on March 17 because of the pandemic. “We are currently focused on a strategic reopening plan which will take into consideration safety and social distancing guidelines,” the statement adds.
As Foxwoods was shut down by the outbreak, dealers at the casino were furloughed along with thousands of other venue workers. Management did not sit down with the unionized workers about the closure.
The dealers are represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2121. The union’s leadership was hoping casino management would have negotiated with the dealers over paid leave.
James was named last summer as a replacement for Felix Rappaport. Rappaport succumbed to a heart ailment in 2018.
In a statement last year, James said upon his hiring that “Foxwoods is the premier destination in the Northeast and a pioneer in the tribal gaming community, and I’m thrilled to be joining their stellar team.”
Rodney Butler, tribal council chairman, was interim CEO between Rappaport’s passing and when James was hired.
Guyot is a member of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe. The tribe operates the casino.