For more information:                                                                                     March 14, 2022

Larry Gregory, MGHA



MGHA-sponsored event to be held May 3-6 in Biloxi

JACKSON, Miss. — Five gaming industry leaders will be inducted into the Mississippi Gaming Hall of Fame during the Southern Gaming Summit (SGS) in May. The summit, hosted by the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association (MGHA), is set for May 3-6 at MGM’s Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.

MGHA is not only the host of the summit, but also the owner, guaranteeing a conference of the industry, by the industry, about the industry. American Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Bill Miller will be the keynote speaker at SGS, which will feature an extensive conference program consisting of six sessions.

“I’m thrilled to return to Biloxi and grateful for the opportunity to keynote the Southern Gaming Summit,” said Miller. “Gaming is an essential driver of the region’s economy. Under Larry and the MGHA’s leadership, this event brings together the right voices and decision makers to set the industry’s agenda for years to come.”

Sessions for registered attendees include Regulatory Updates, iGaming and Sportsbetting, Being a Responsible Operator in 2022, Doing Business as a Third Party Vendor, and Tribal Sportsbetting: Questions, Rules and Models, along with the popular Operator & GM Roundtable Discussion.

Another highlight of the SGS will be the evening gala when five industry leaders will be honored as the newest Hall of Fame members. “This year’s class exemplifies the personal and professional qualities that we honor through this award. The qualities of honesty, character, and integrity are well known within each of them,” said Larry Gregory, MGHA executive director. “Their remarkable leadership has benefited the people of Mississippi by their vision of goodwill. Their legacy is our success.”

This year’s inductees are Allan B. Solomon, Industry Pioneer; Virginia McDowell, Industry Influencer; Craig H. Neilsen, Commercial Gaming; Kagemasa Kozuki, Manufacturer; and John Hairston, Regulator.

• Allan B. Solomon has more than four decades of regional gaming experience. As one of the co-founders of the Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., he was part of the executive team since its inception in 1992. Solomon served as executive vice president and general counsel of the company until 2008. He also was CFO and treasurer of the company from June 1992 through October 1993, and was a member of the board of directors and company secretary from June 1992 through July 2003. Solomon played an instrumental role in legal affairs, legislative matters, new jurisdiction expansion and investor relations, helping grow the company into one of the leading regional gaming operators. Currently, he is principal and chairman, Foundation Gaming and Entertainment which owns two casinos in Mississippi, WaterView Casino & Hotel in Vicksburg and Fitz Casino & Hotel in Tunica.

• Virginia McDowell served as the only female president and chief executive officer of a major gaming operating company from 2007 until her retirement from Isle of Capri Casinos in April 2016. She has worked in the industry in regional and destination markets for 40 years, and was named Gaming Executive of the Year by Casino Journal magazine in 2009. She is currently a non-executive director of Entain plc (LSE:ENT). where she chairs the Environmental, Social and Governance committee and serves as the designated workforce director. In addition to Entain, she serves on the executive committee of Global Gaming Women, a nonprofit she co-founded in 2016 with a mission to support, inspire and influence the development of women in the gaming industry through education and mentoring.

• Craig H. Neilsen, founder of Ameristar Casinos, Inc., was a visionary entrepreneur known for his uncompromising demand for excellence, attention to detail and inspirational leadership. Named as the American Gaming Association’s Top Performing CEO in 2002, Neilsen’s inspired business acumen led Ameristar, founded in 1993, to own and operate seven market-leading gaming properties in Mississippi and across the country. A 1985 automobile accident left Neilsen with a severe spinal cord injury (SCI), which sparked his unparalleled tenacity and focus. Neilsen’s success in business in the gaming industry gave him the financial capacity to fund the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation. Founded in 2002, the Neilsen Foundation serves as North America’s largest private funder providing more than $30 million annually in programming and research to improve the quality of life of people living with SCI.

• Kagemasa Kozuki is founder, chairman and representative director of KONAMI HOLDINGS CORPORATION. He founded KONAMI INDUSTRY CO., LTD in 1969 to lease and maintain jukeboxes, before expanding the company in 1973 to manufacture amusement machines for arcades. Under Kozuki’s leadership, the company has grown substantially over the past 50-plus years to become a major international corporation operating four business segments: digital entertainment, amusement, gaming and systems, and sports. In addition to his business ventures, Kozuki’s philanthropic efforts through the Kozuki Foundation and his consistent support for educational, cultural, athletic, and social support related organizations have been recognized by Forbes Magazine as well as many other publications.

• John Hairston has served as CEO of Hancock Whitney Corporation since 2006 and as president since 2014. Hairston received appointments in 2005 and 2010 to the Mississippi Gaming Commission, as one of the three-member body regulating the state’s gaming industry; and in 2012, Governor Phil Bryant appointed him chairman of that commission where he served until 2015. He serves as Trustee and Secretary on the Board of Trustees of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, and on the boards of directors for both the Gulf Coast Business Council and New Orleans Business Council.  He currently serves on the board of the Mississippi Aquarium Foundation and the Mississippi Economic Council. As a former faculty member at the University of Georgia Banking School and LSU Graduate School of Banking, Hairston is a long-time advocate for financial literacy and job creation for communities in which Hancock Whitney serves.

Founded in 1994, the regional conference and trade show addresses issues of importance to commercial and tribal gaming in the South and the Midwest, bringing decision-makers to coastal Mississippi.

Registration and sponsorship information is now available online at www.sgsummit.org.