Mississippi Gaming Hall of Fame Gala & Dinner
Thursday, May 9
2018 marked the inauguration of the Mississippi Gaming Hall of Fame, honoring some of the people responsible for bringing the progressive style of casino development and gaming regulation to the Magnolia State as the first inductees. In one year, this event has established itself as a “can’t miss” opportunity to rub elbows with the greats of Mississippi gaming.
William Yates, Jr., Founder, W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company
Roy Anderson, Jr., Founder, Roy Anderson Corp.
Timothy Wilmott, CEO, Penn National Gaming Inc.
Larry Gregory, Executive Director, Mississippi Gaming & Hospitality Association
William “Si” Redd, Founder, IGT
Roy Anderson, Jr.
Founder, Roy Anderson Corp.
Roy Anderson, Jr. (Anderson), founded Roy Anderson Corp (RAC) in 1955 when he returned to his hometown of Gulfport after serving as a pilot in the Korean War. An engineer with a degree from Georgia Tech, Anderson began modestly with one pickup truck, three employees, and a dream to have his own construction company. Roy Anderson Jr. opened his contracting business doing small repair projects and building a few houses and then progressed into commercial construction. One of the early projects Anderson bid on was a Hancock Bank branch. When they opened the bids, Anderson and another more established contractor had bid the same exact amount. So, the elder contractor said “let’s flip a coin.” Since Anderson was the youngest of the two, he suggested the elder contractor call the coin. He called heads, and it came up tails. Anderson joked that they won their first gambling project back then. With the advent of gaming in Mississippi in 1990, Anderson’s company grew significantly and played an integral role in meeting the stringent requirements of its gaming clients. The first dockside casino project was Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis in which Anderson was selected by owner, Marlin Torgusson. The first phase of the $35 million facility was completed in September 1992, in just 86 days. Anderson’s second gaming project was for Lyle Berman and his newly established company, Grand Casinos from Minneapolis, MN. Their first project together was the $45 million Grand Casino in Gulfport, which was completed in May 1993, with a fully lit site in order to work throughout the night to utilize a 24/7 work schedule. The floating barge for the casino was the size of two football fields and weighed over 27,000,000 pounds. In addition to the demanding schedule to open the casino, they had to also demolish the existing shrimp boat piers and build the new piers, marina and ice facility in time for shrimping season. Normally, such a project would take between 14 to 18 months to complete, but it was completed in just 153 days, and Grand Casino’s opening success led to their rapid growth as a newly public company. Roy Anderson, Jr.’s legacy continues today as the company he founded continues to build gaming resorts in multiple jurisdictions. To date, the company has worked on 29 gaming properties to construct more than $3 billion in assets, including 20 new ground-up casinos.
Executive Director, Mississippi Gaming & Hospitality Association
Larry Gregory is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association. Prior to college, Gregory proudly served his country by enlisting in the United States Air Force for four years. Gregory received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from Mississippi State University. He also received a Certificate of Paralegal Studies from Mississippi College. Gregory is a long time veteran in the gaming industry management profession. Prior to joining the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association in 2011, he served as Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission from 2001 until 2011. Before that, Gregory held the Deputy Executive Director position as well as the Chief of Staff position at the Mississippi Gaming Commission. His ability was never questioned, but it was challenged when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August of 2005. Gregory had major surgery two weeks prior to Katrina and after the storm, he worked tirelessly with operators and corporate offices to get the industry up and running again in a timely manner. For his efforts, the International Masters of Gaming Law named Gregory 2005 Regulator of the Year. However, Gregory was not through with natural disasters. As the great Mississippi River flood of May 2011 hit the river counties, his guidance in the industry was felt again, as all – if not most – properties were reopened within three to four weeks of their closing. Gregory left the Mississippi Gaming Commission in 2011 and has led the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association to heights it has never seen. He was appointed to the board of the American Gaming Association for two consecutive years and is highly respected as a leader in the gaming industry across the country. Gregory has represented the state of Mississippi for many years and he has been asked to speak at countless industry panels throughout his career. He resides in Jackson with his lovely wife Mollie and their two children, Fran and Gate.
William “Si” Redd
Founder, International Game Technology (IGT)
Mississippi native William “Si” Redd was the founder of what is now the global leader in gaming, International Game Technology PLC (IGT). Redd’s illustrious career in gaming began when he invested in a pinball machine. What followed was a continued series of investments fueled by hard work that led to him becoming a distributor for Bally Manufacturing. By 1967, Redd had moved to Nevada where he continued his entrepreneurial activity as a distributor. By 1975, he had acquired the rights to video poker and established his own company, SIRCOMA, inspired by “Si Redd’s Coin Machines.” Redd’s acquisition of the rights to video poker was a pivotal moment in gaming history which set a course for SIRCOMA’s evolution into International Game Technology (IGT). Under Redd’s leadership, IGT was established in Reno, Nevada. The company flourished, with video poker gaining mass appeal and the IGT gaming portfolio expanding with a vast selection of slot and video poker machines. To fuel the success of slot machines, Si Redd’s IGT introduced the wide area progressive, which revolutionized the jackpot experience by linking together multiple machines across multiple casinos in a progressive network. IGT Megabucks, the original wide area progressive, today continues to reward players with life-changing jackpots of more than $1 million over 30 years after its original launch. Later in life, Si Redd settled in Las Vegas and became a pillar of the community there. His philanthropy toward the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Thomas & Mack Center and the Muscular Dystrophy Association are just a few examples of the generosity that Redd regularly demonstrated. Si Redd will always be remembered for his impact on gaming. But he also serves as a shining example of how hard work, grit, determination and perseverance can create opportunity for anyone. Today, there are 12,000 IGT employees around the world who are forever grateful for Mr. William “Si” Redd.
Chief Executive Office, Penn National Gaming Inc.
Tim Wilmott was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Penn National in November of 2013 after having served as the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer since February 2008. Wilmott has served on the Board of Directors of Penn National Gaming, Inc., since September 2014. In addition, Mr. Wilmott is Chairman of the American Gaming Association. During his tenure at Penn National, the company has aggressively expanded its operating base with the opening of new full service casinos in Kansas, Ohio and Massachusetts, as well as acquired existing gaming facilities in Nevada, Missouri and Mississippi. In addition, Penn National launched an interactive gaming division featuring online social casino games, and expanded into the retail gaming business in Illinois. In November 2013, Penn National completed the tax-free spin-off to its shareholders of Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. which owns the real estate associated with 21 casino facilities. More recently, in December 2017, Penn National announced an agreement to acquire Pinnacle Entertainment in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $2.8 billion. The merger gave Penn National the most extensive geographic footprint and operational diversity in the gaming industry, with a combined 41 properties in 20 jurisdictions across North America and more than 30,000 employees. Wilmott joined Penn National with over 20 years of prior experience managing and developing gaming operations in diverse regulated jurisdictions including Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey and North Carolina, as well as internationally. He previously served as Chief Operating Officer of Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment Corporation), a position he held for approximately four years. During his tenure, Wilmott was credited with advancing Harrah’s player tracking and customer rewards programs, increasing its customer acquisition and marketing efforts and developing and introducing analytical tools aimed at driving growth and customer satisfaction. Prior to his appointment to the position of Chief Operating Officer, Wilmott served from 1997 to 2002 as Division President of Harrah’s Eastern Division with responsibility for the operations of eight Harrah’s properties. Wilmott resides in Princeton, NJ with his wife and daughter.
William Yates, Jr.
Founder, W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company
William (Bill) G. Yates, Jr. founded W. G. Yates & Sons Construction Company with his father, Gully Yates, in 1963. After serving with the U.S. Army in Europe where he received the Army Commendation Award for outstanding performance and attained the rank of Captain, Yates returned in 1967 to become the Chief Operating Officer of W. G. Yates & Sons Construction Company. Under his leadership, W. G. Yates & Sons Construction Company became Mississippi’s largest general construction firm. In pursuit of growth, Yates led the charge throughout the 1970s and 1980s for Yates’ diversification and vertical integration efforts with the addition of several subsidiaries and operating divisions. The theory that self-performance and vertical integration could give Yates an advantage over its competitors proved itself in short order. Another significant game changer that took Yates to an entirely new level was the decision by the Mississippi State Legislature in 1990 to legalize dockside gambling on the Mississippi River and along the Gulf Coast. In order to comply with the law, the casinos had to be constructed on top of floating barges, requiring specialized construction. Under Yates’ engineering and construction leadership, Yates personnel developed a unique way to offset tidal surge fluctuations. The largest of these projects was the 3.2 million-square-foot, 32-story, 1,780-room Beau Rivage Hotel & Casino, which originally opened in 1999 (Yates later re-built and helped re-open in record time after Hurricane Katrina’s destruction in August 2005.) The 150,000-square-foot Beau Rivage Casino is supported by a semi-submersible barge structure that floats at 20 feet above sea level on top of five barges anchored by steel pipe piles 110 feet deep in the Mississippi Sound. Yates’ success in building entertainment and hotel facilities opened doors for more hospitality work. The increase in demand for multi-unit residential properties along the Gulf Coast led to Yates constructing billions of dollars in condominiums throughout Florida and Alabama. Today, Yates’ diverse portfolio includes projects all across the country including significant active gaming projects from Florida to California and many places in between.