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Penn National Gives Anthony Marnell The Red Stapler

By Chuckmonster on Tuesday, 23rd June 2015 1:05pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 3


Earlier this month Penn National Gaming named former Golden Nugget, Foxwoods and Sugarhouse executive Bob Sheldon to head their newly created Las Vegas business unit, which include existing holding M Resort as well as the recently acquired The New Tropicana of Las Vegas A DoubleTree By Hilton.

In itself, the news is wholly unremarkable. Throngs of well-traveled casino executives slip in and out of regional manager roles much the same way Dave Kingman played for four teams in two leagues during the 1977 Major League Baseball season, including stints for the Mets AND the Yankees.

The real news is that Anthony Marnell, designer, builder and owner/operator of M Resort (until Penn National essentially stole it from him in 2010) is transitioning to a "community and political relations" role with a side order of "long-term development plans" consultant role.

I can't help but be heartbroken for Anthony Marnell. He designed and built M Resort in a dusty, forgotten corner of the valley and created a zinger of a property which looks even better today than the day it opened. I visited last week and the place is spotless and gleaming. Now, at the time Penn is expanding its footprint, they bounce Anthony into a consulting role and give saddle the Vegas vision to Dave Kingman.

If you have yet to listen to the Vegas Gang interview with Anthony Marnell, you MUST do so right now. This episode was recorded shortly after the Penn takeover deal was announced and Anthony is brutally honest and painfully emotional about the situation. This is, far and away, my favorite of all the Vegas Gang episodes. Anthony Marnell is the real deal.

Tipsters tell us that Bob Sheldon's first task will be to reposition and optimize Tropicana's existing property and towers (there is no truth to the asbestos rumors) to compete with "low end" Caesars properties - which to me means Harrah's, Ballys and Linq. Penn sees this demographic - mid-market value seeking tourists - as their bread and butter. It is unclear if this is what they are setting as a market target or if this is what they know about their existing database. If you assume both, than what does the clearly upscale M Resort have to do with Penn's bigger picture? opportunity knocking? locals marketing database? a stepping stone? The news about Marnell being pushed to consultancy sheds doubt on the slim possibility that the M purchase was an acquihire.

But then again:

As we integrate Tropicana Las Vegas into our growing property portfolio and further refine the operations at the resort, Anthony’s casino, design and construction expertise will also be invaluable to our entire team as we focus on the long-range master planning of our operations in Las Vegas.

Penn National is nothing if not cautious. They've engaged in a slow creep from operators of lone horse racing facility to the encroaching on the Las Vegas Strip occupied by the biggest players in the business. Every step is calculated, patient and, as stated above, master planned.


Comments & Discussion:

This recently popped up on the Steelman Partners website..


Could this be Penn's vision for the Trop, or was this an updated version of the shopping mall concept? Layout and footprint do not match the first initial plans and renderings

^^ holy crap!

Sure makes helluva lot more sense competing for the Harrahs-Flamingo-Linq-Ballys crowd than competing for the Hard Rock-Palms-Encore Beach Club crowd like the previous group did (Nikki Beach: need I say more?).

So already Penn National is looking smarter than the previous team. Sure, they're just following the playbook written by William F. Harrah, but that's not a bad thing.

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