Atlantic City Casinos: The Gender Gap On Executive Roles

10/26/2020
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In a way, Jacqueline Grace’s position as Tropicana’s senior vice president of Tropicana Casino, a leading Atlantic City casino – can be described as historic. It isn’t the first time a woman would hold a top executive position but it shrinks the gender gap in the casino industry even further.

Grace became the fourth woman to hold a leading position in one of the city’s nine casinos. Her peers are Bally’s Senior Vice President and General Manager Karie Hall, Terry Glebocki, CEO of Ocean Casino, and Borgata President, Melonie Johnson.

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Steve Norton, a casino industry consultant has been following up on the development considering the way things have changed since the first casino was established in Atlantic City. In 1971, Norton was hired as an executive in Atlantic City – notably the first executive ever hired. This was five years before the Atlantic City New Jersey casinos-only referendum was passed and seven years before Resorts set up the first casino in Atlantic City.

Norton’s wife had seen hard times trying to get accepted to the medical school of Toronto. While she worked as a physician, the era didn’t favor women taking up such demanding jobs.

Though Norton couldn’t recall any discrimination against women by the top executives, women, were nonetheless not a popular sight in executive roles as of the time.

However, Norton remembers inducting the late Redenia Gilliam-Mosee into the Atlantic City Rotary Club. Gilliam-Mosee, a graduate of Atlantic City High School became the first female member of the club. She was hired as a consultant for Bally’s when it was established in 1979. She went on to become an executive – a role she held for 20-plus years. In 2016, she was posthumously inducted into the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame.

Michael Pollock, the managing director of Spectrum Gaming Group described Gilliam-Mosee as the face, the voice, and the conscience of the gaming industry in its earliest days in Atlantic City.

Another notable female trailblazer according to Norton was Virginia McDowell. McDowell was an excellent executive who worked her up to the top of the ladder as the vice president of business development at Tropicana Atlantic City, a position she held from 1984 – 1996.

Another notable mention was Kim Sinatra. She served as the Chief Legal Officer for Merv Griffin in the 1990s. She later became a top executive for Steve Wynn and played an active role in Wynn opening a casino in Macau that led to further U.S investment in the area.

Gilliam-Mosee marked a historic achievement by being the first black woman to hold a major executive role in Atlantic City, followed by Johnson and Grace.
While women rose to the highest level in Atlantic City casinos, accusations of gender discrimination became more frequent.

Loretta Pickus who served as the senior vice president and chief legal counsel at Ocean Casino stated that her employment was terminated due to her insistence on the casino filing accurate reports to the Division of Gaming Enforcement with clarity on the employment status of the casino’s director of surveillance.

In her lawsuit, she stated that her boss told her that she should have been less direct and spoken less harshly in a meeting with the members of the casino’s audit committee.
Norton considers the continuous rise of women to top executive levels in Atlantic City casinos as a good sign. He was instrumental in the formulation and passing of the New Jersey Casino Control Act in 1977.

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