Updated: Bill Hornbuckle named acting CEO of MGM Resorts to ‘provide continuity of leadership’ during coronavirus crisis Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · March 23, 2020 at 7:05 am MGM Resorts International named company president Bill Hornbuckle as acting CEO of the casino giant Sunday, replacing Jim Murren, who announced in February his plans to step down when his contract expired next year. MGM said Murren vacated the CEO and chairmanship of the company Sunday due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. MGM Resorts has shut down all 20 of its gaming properties in the U.S. in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. In a statement, the company said the change was made “as to provide continuity of leadership for the company in light of the public health crisis gripping the nation and the travel industry.” MGM board member Paul Salem was named chairman. Salem is also chairman of the company’s real estate committee. Hornbuckle, currently president and chief operating officer of MGM Resorts, the No. 2 senior-level corporate role behind Murren. Hornbuckle held numerous corporate roles, property executive roles, and development positions – nationally and internationally – with the company since 1998. He had previous experience operating Strip casinos with Mirage Resorts. Hornbuckle also serves on the board of MGM China Holdings, the company’s joint venture in Macau, on the board of real estate investment trust MGM Growth Properties, the CityCenter joint venture board with Dubai World and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority. “We have an incredible challenge ahead. We have a talented leadership team, the best employees in the world, and a loyal customer base,” Hornbuckle said. “I have every confidence that MGM Resorts will remain the global entertainment leader once this crisis is contained and it is safe to operate. I look forward to working with Paul and the entire Board of Directors as we plan for the future.” Shortly after the MGM news broke, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced Murren would lead a public-private partnership in the state, the COVID-19 Response Relief and Recovery task force, an unpaid position. MGM Resorts voluntarily closed casinos in New York, Ohio, Mississippi, Maryland, and Massachusetts starting last week. Last Sunday, the company announced plans to close its 13 resorts and non-gaming properties in Las Vegas, two days before Sisolak ordered all casinos statewide to shut down at midnight Tuesday due to the coronavirus. Hornbuckle as quoted in all MGM press releases on the shutdowns, except for the Las Vegas announcement, which quoted Murren. According to its 2019 10K filing, MGM employs 70,000 people at its casinos in the U.S. The company reported a guest at The Mirage in Las Vegas tested positive for coronavirus in early March, had several employees in Las Vegas test positive, and closed its Yonkers Raceway in New York after a worker with the Standardbred Owners Association contracted the virus and subsequently passed away. Salem, in a statement, said MGM needed “continued steady, skilled leadership is needed in this time of great upheaval and uncertainty. Bill is one of the most experienced operators in the business and we have confidence in his ability to bring this company back online.” Murren announced his intentions to step down in February on the same day the company was to announced fourth-quarter results. He agreed to stay through his contract, which is due to expire in December 2021. Two days after Murren announced his departure, MGM Resorts, in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, said the outgoing CEO would collect $31.9 million in salary, bonuses, stock, severance, and monthly consulting fees through the end of 2021. A week later, Murren sold more than $22 million shares of the company’s stock over two days, according to an SEC filing. Last week, Murren was among a group of tourism industry executives who met with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to discuss the $1 trillion federal stimulus bill and the hospitality industry’s inclusion in the package. Murren’s wife, Heather Murren, is a campaign finance chairman Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. “I fully support accelerating the planned leadership transition to help MGM Resorts address the rapidly changing environment,” Murren said in a statement from MGM. “I have great confidence in Bill Hornbuckle and the management team to lead MGM Resorts at this critical juncture, as we have together through numerous hardships of the past. I will continue to dedicate my efforts to help during this uncertain time, and I will be assisting the state of Nevada in its crisis response and recovery efforts.” Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.