Page 17 - Mississippi/Louisiana Gaming News - Spring, 2022
P. 17

married a Mississippi native and discovered the Mississippi Gulf Coast while vacationing with family. After Mississippi approved gaming, Solomon said he realized Biloxi would be the best place to have a casino. “Isle of Capri was the first casino to open in Mississippi,” Solomon said in accepting his award. “My involvement and commitment to
the gaming industry in Mississippi over the past 30 years has included the development, acquisition or operation of nine casinos in this state.”
Solomon is currently principal and chairman of Foundation Gaming and Entertainment, which owns two casinos in Mississippi, WaterView Casino & Hotel in Vicksburg and Fitz Casino & Hotel in Tunica. However, he said his most treasured relationships are his wife, children and 11 grandchildren, many of whom were at the gala.
Industry Influencer
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
for 40
years, and
was named
Gaming Executive of the Year by Casino Journal magazine in 2009.
The first woman to be inducted into the Mississippi Gaming Hall of Fame, McDowell acknowledged it is a timely award. “It is more important than ever that women in gaming advance to
roles where they can provide diversity
of thought and action, where they can serve as role models and mentors to the 50% of our industry that are female and help develop policy and programs at the companies where they are employed to accomplish these goals.”
Currently a non-executive director
of Entain plc, where she chairs the Environmental, Social and Governance committee and serves as the designated workforce director, McDowell 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.
Commercial Gaming
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.
Thomas Jingoli, executive vice president of Konami Gaming, accepted
the award on behalf of Kozuki, who was in Japan and unable to travel. “It’s been an absolute privilege for me to work at the company and for Chairman Kozuki for 20 years,” Jingoli said before reading prepared remarks from Kozuki.
In those remarks,
Kozuki recounted how he established Konami Gaming in 1997. “Just three years later, in 2000, Konami
was granted an official license by the Mississippi Gaming Commission, one
of our first major licenses in the U.S. This opened the way for a decades- long partnership with some of the most recognized and professional executives in the world.”
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. Kozuki is the first Asian to be inducted into the Mississippi Gaming Hall of Fame.
Thomas Jingoli
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Craig H. Neilsen, founder of Ameristar Casinos, Inc., was a
visionary entrepreneur known for his uncompromising
demand for
attention to
detail and
Named as
the American
Top Performing
CEO in 2002,
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. “What’s amazing about my dad is, I don’t think he
would have been great without that accident,” said Ray Neilsen, accepting the award on behalf of his father who passed away in November 2006.
Neilsen’s success 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 of programming and research to improve the quality of life of people living with SCI, providing more than $30 million annually.
“My dad’s induction in the Mississippi Gaming Hall of Fame is a great honor, and as a grateful son, I’m proud to acknowledge the important fact that my dad continues to play in the gaming industry some 30 years after he came to Vicksburg,” Neilsen said.
Kagemasa Kozuki is founder, chairman and representative director of KONAMI HOLDINGS CORPORATION. He founded KONAMI INDUSTRY CO., LTD in 1969
 Ray and Nancy Neilsen
  Virginia McDowell

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