For Caesars Executive Chairman Gary Carano, gaming is a family business By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports September 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm The name Eldorado Resorts has been relegated to gaming’s history books. However, the operating culture established by the founding Carano family remains active within Caesars Entertainment, the successor corporation that operates 55 gaming properties in 16 states. Gary Carano, Caesars’ executive chairman who directed Eldorado through five casino company acquisitions in the last six years, said there is a certain message sent to employees, management, and investors by putting a family face on a public company. “It goes back to our basic culture when we first went public,” Carano said of the interest his siblings, his children, and other family members have taken in the gaming business. “We all worked from the ground up, the hotel side, the casino side, (and) food and beverage. That says something to your team members and management,” he added. Carano, 67, was the keynote speaker at last week’s Northern Nevada Business Council of Douglas County’s Critical Issues Conference. The annual event went virtual and Carano was interviewed by Reno television host Sam Shad, host of Nevada Newsmakers. (The interview can be seen in two parts at http://www.nevadanewsmakers.com/) The timing of the interview came two months after completion of the transformational $17.3 billion merger between Eldorado and Caesars. Eldorado was the acquiring company and its management took control of the corporation, which retained the Caesars name and stock symbol. The nation’s largest casino company is now managed out of the former Eldorado corporate offices in Reno. Douglas County includes South Lake Tahoe and its four casinos. The two major resorts in the market – Harvey’s and Harrah’s – were inherited by the former Eldorado in the merger. “There is only one Lake Tahoe in the world and it’s a beautiful jewel,” Carano said. “The properties have great bones, but they have been neglected. There is a lot of opportunity in the market.” The Carano family’s gaming involvement began when patriarch Don Carano converted some family-owned vacant land in downtown Reno into the Eldorado Hotel-Casino in 1973. The 800-room property – the first Reno casino to open on Virginia Street north of the railroad tracks – cost $6.5 million to build. In today’s numbers, Gary Carano said, $6.5 million is what the company spends to “remodel a couple of restaurants.” Everyone in the Carano family played a role in the casino business. Screen grab of Gary Carano via Nevada Newsmakers “My cousin was the first general manager for a while,” Gary Carano recalled. “My great uncle and great aunt made all the ravioli and pasta in the pasta shop. All the kids, my siblings and myself, worked there from valet parking to room attendants to the front desk.” The family presence remains part of Caesars, starting with his siblings. Gregg Carano oversees food and beverage and has helped open the company’s Brew Brothers tap houses at casinos in several states. Glenn Carano – a former NFL quarterback – supervises the company’s three Native American casino-management contracts acquired in the Caesars deal and has oversight over “The Row,” the company’s three Reno properties. Cindy Carano oversees the company’s philanthropic efforts and is involved with downtown Reno. Gene Carano works within the high-limit gaming area. The next generation is now stepping in. Gary Carano’s son, Anthony Carano, is president and chief operating officer of Caesars. Gary’s two daughters work for the corporation in government affairs and marketing. Gregg’s son is involved in food and beverage. The family presence has been noted by employees of the companies Eldorado acquired, starting with MTR Gaming in 2014, Isle of Capri Casinos in 2016, Grand Victoria Casino in Illinois in 2018, Tropicana Entertainment in 2018, and Caesars. “We’ll sit down with the property GMs and go over financials and talk with employees in the back of the house,” Gary Carano said. “The team members see that commitment. That’s not how it is for most of corporate gaming America.” Nevada’s casino industry also came full circle for Gary Carano. He was taught the business by Reno gaming pioneers Bob McDonald and Bob Cashell, along with Claudine Williams in Las Vegas. He dealt blackjack and learned the casino floor at Boomtown in Reno, which he parlayed into a two-year internship at the Holiday Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. There, he worked in every department. Fast forward to 2019 and the Holiday Casino – now Harrah’s Las Vegas – was one of nine Strip properties the former Eldorado acquired in the Caesars deal. “Our family and company are truly blessed,” he said. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.