weather icon Clear

World traveler Blackhurst understands Eldorado’s domestic goals

Updated September 13, 2019 - 4:51 pm

Jan Jones Blackhurst will miss a lot about working as an executive for Caesars Entertainment Corp., but standing in line at foreign airports waiting to get her passport stamped isn’t one of them.

But what she will miss in all that international travel to four continents she did on behalf of Caesars over the past 20 years will be the hundreds of relationships she cultivated to move the company into a good position to win a concession for building an integrated resort in Japan.

That won’t matter anymore because the company that is acquiring Caesars for $17.3 billion, Reno-based Eldorado Resorts Inc., is passing on Japan and other foreign investments Blackhurst had been working on as executive vice president of public policy and corporate responsibility.

Until Oct. 1, she will be making contact with many of the friends she has made over the years to explain Eldorado management’s decision to focus on domestic casino growth.

“It was a very difficult decision, but one I would say is 100 percent vested in making sure that this new company is best in class in the industry and that they wanted all their focus on making sure that not only were they looking to de-lever the company to a point they think is in the best interests of both the company and the market, but they want all free cash flow to be focused on immediate opportunities,” Blackhurst said in an interview.

“I can see them making that a priority,” she said. “Japan’s a long way away. I think we were well-positioned, but they’re looking at what’s in front of them today, so I can see making a decision that allows their 100 percent focus to be on building the biggest domestic gaming company in the United States. If there are other foreign possibilities, maybe they look at that through acquisition, which is something (Eldorado CEO) Tom Reeg has spoken about before.”

Eldorado is well on its way to becoming the largest regional casino operator in America. The company probably will rid itself of some properties, including one or maybe two in Las Vegas, but when the deal is done, the new Caesars could have as many as 60 properties with 51,000 hotel rooms.

Blackhurst said she will miss the relationships she made in Japan the most because she has been working on that rapport for nearly 12 years. But she also has developed friendships in Greece, Australia and Brazil.

“I’m trying to level their expectations to understand that our focus is going to be a domestic focus,” she said. “You never want to leave a bad taste with a relationship, so I’m trying to preserve them for future opportunities down the line, and I think we can do that because things change and you never know what they could be. But I do agree with what I know of the Eldorado focus that this decision for their vision is the right decision at this time.”

She’s not shedding any tears about the end of her career as a Caesars executive because she landed well, taking a position on the company’s board of directors. Earlier this month, Caesars announced that she will replace Richard Schifter who resigned as a director effective Sept. 5. So instead of implementing board policies, she becomes part of the team establishing them.

“I’ve been with this company a long time and have a lot invested in its future, and I’m pleased that I’ll have a role to play helping Caesars be the biggest and best brand in the gaming industry again,” she said.

“I’ll still get to watch the policy and help keep the vision but just from a different perspective. And I think that’s good. I’m looking forward to that opportunity, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with the Caranos (the family that controls Eldorado) and with Tom Reeg and some of the other members of the board. They’re very human leaders.”

While some will be jolted when they see Caesars as a Northern Nevada company when the transaction closes early next year, others note that it’s a homecoming for what once was Harrah’s Entertainment, and Blackhurst thinks the Caranos will pull off the transition with class.

“One of the things that impressed me the most when I first met (Chairman) Gary Carano, he’d come to a meeting in our corporate offices at Caesars, but after the meeting, there are areas where the executives are and you walk down the hall and there is cubicle after cubicle of employees, He went down on his own and introduced himself to every employee, which I just thought was a tremendous show of class,” she said.

“I think it’s very telling about the future of this company.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Binion's debuts a spinning bar overlooking Fremont Street Experience
Binion's debuted its spinning bar inside the Whiskey Licker Up Saloon. The Rotating bar only goes at one full rotation per 15 minutes overlooking the Fremont Street Experience. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Day 3 of the 2019 Global Gaming Expo
Day 3 of the 2019 Global Gaming Expo took place at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Southern Nevada could set a new resale-price record in coming months.
The median sales price of previously owned single-family homes – the bulk of the market – was $310,000 in September. Before the economy crashed last decade, prices peaked in June 2006 at $315,000, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.(Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Walmart container park in Henderson - VIDEO
Henderson could be home to a container park associated with a Walmart Inc. initiative. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recession lessons could help Las Vegas face next slump - VIDEO
While the last economic downturn had a dramatic impact on local casinos, most experts expect the industry will be better able to weather the storm during the next recession. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM and victims of Oct. 1 reach settlement agreement - VIDEO
MGM Resorts International and lawyers representing potentially thousands of victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip have reached a tentative settlement of between $735 million and $800 million. (Mat Luschek /Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Live music and EDM dominate the night on day 2 of A’Le’Innstock
After sunset bands rocked the crowds at A’Le’Innstock in Rachel, Nevada on the second night of the event.
iPhone 11 Release
Local Las Vegas long time Apple product consumer shares her excitement for the new iPhone 11 release Downtown Summerlin. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lihi Levin talks about a mobil app Dropit - VIDEO
Lihi Levin, regional manager at Dropit Shopping, talks about a mobil app Dropit. The app lets customers leave their shopping bags at a store then have them delivered the same day to their home or hotel so they can shop without carrying multiple bags all day. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
North Las Vegas company prepares for Mars - VIDEO
Robert Bigelow and his Bigelow Aerospace manufacturing facility played host to eight NASA astronauts and 60 engineers this week getting to know the company’s B330 autonomous, expandable space station. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas developer talks about a new apartment complex called “the yoU”
Frank Marretti lll, founder of G2 Capital Development, talks about his new apartment complex called “the yoU” near UNLV. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Steel cables will hoist roof at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Stainless steel cables are being put into place at Allegiant Stadium to begin the process of putting the roof on the 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas. Stadium Chief Operating Officer Don Webb explains how the cables will be used to get the roof put on the future home of the Raiders and UNLV football. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The last remaining Sigma Derby game in Las Vegas
Derek Stevens, owner of the D Las Vegas, talks about the last remaining Sigma Derby horse racing game in Las Vegas inside his casino floor. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Review
Janine Blake of Las Vegas gives her review of the new Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich at the restaurant’s location on west Bonanza Road on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019,
SuperZoo 2019 takes over Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
SuperZoo 2019 show for pet retailers brought pet products of all description to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MSG Sphere at The Venetian to cost $1.2B plus
Scheduled to open in 2021, it is expected to be busier than Madison Square Garden in New York. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Favorite products from SuperZoo 2019
Some of the fun and interesting pet products on display at the SuperZoo in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Convention Day 3
The fashion trade show MAGIC, held Monday through Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Las Vegas - Day One
The biannual MAGIC convention show opened Monday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant celebrates naming deal with tailgate party
Allegiant Air employees celebrate with a tailgate party after the company’s naming deal with the Raiders for the new Las Vegas stadium.
Nevada's sportsbook operators welcome competition
Sportsbook operators from near and far are looking to get into in the established Nevada market, experts say. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)