Photo: Foxwoods / Contributed Photo
MASHANTUCKET — Foxwoods Resort Casino showed off its HighFlyer zipline in spring 2018, with press coverage showing then-CEO Felix Rappaport taking a ride from the top of the Fox Tower with Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chairman Rodney Butler. Two months later, Rappaport was dead of cardiovascular disease.
The huge resort hasn’t had a full-time CEO since (Butler did double duty in the interim), until this week when the tribal council announced Ohio-born tribal gaming executive John J. James as the new president and CEO.
James comes from a similar job at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif., and will officially take the helm Aug. 12. Before Morongo, James was CEO of Gila River Gaming Enterprises Inc. where he led the tribe’s three casinos in achieving the highest recorded earnings in Arizona, according to a news release late Monday.
In Connecticut, he faces the challenge of growing Foxwoods’ business in an increasingly competitive environment (MGM Springfield and the new Encore outside Boston included) where Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have experienced 12 straight months of year-over-year decreases in slots revenue.
Butler said Foxwoods has been battling that reality with added features for years. The HighFlyer, other rides and attractions are examples.
“Over the past decade,” said Butler in the release, “Foxwoods transformed the traditional gaming model through a relentless pursuit of guest-first experiences resulting in the only true all-encompassing resort destination.“With his proven track record for innovation, John is the right leader to continue that commitment to our guests, fulfill our vision and ignite our passion for delivering a resort that excites and surprises.”
As he assumes his new role at Foxwoods, he and his wife, Giselle, will be relocating to Mystic, Conn., Foxwoods announced.