Chet Koch, who grew up in Atlantic City, N.J., and has worked in the gambling industry for more than three decades, on Monday was named general manager of Isle of Capri's new Cape Girardeau casino.
The appointment, which also includes the title vice president, becomes effective Jan. 2, said chief operating officer Arnold Block.
The announcement was made Monday morning at the Marquette Hotel Tower, where the casino company also said it will house its temporary offices until the $125 million casino opens in late 2012. The company will lease the entire fifth floor as well as two offices on the main floor for human resources.
"Chet's input and leadership will be important assets as we outline the timelines for hiring, staffing and training our employees," Block said during a 10:30 a.m. news conference.
Koch is well suited to his new role, Block said. Koch, 53, has been a part of a dozen casino openings over the course of his career, including six operated by Caesar's Entertainment (formerly Harrah's) in Joliet, Ill.; Vicksburg and Tunica, Miss.; Shreveport, La.; and Kansas City, Mo.
During one stint, Koch opened six riverboat casinos in 18 months in the mid-1990s.
"I wouldn't have planned it, but it's really been a great career," Koch said following the news conference. "It's one of those things I fell into at 21 years old and it just took me."
Koch's first task as general manager will be to hire his executive team, usually five or six people who will head up areas such as marketing, human resources and finance. He intends for that team to be in place by the end of the year's first quarter, which will be followed by a vigorous process of hiring the 450 casino employees in late spring and early summer.
Koch will be moving to Cape Girardeau from Kansas City, where he works as vice president and general manager for Isle of Capri Casino.
Koch began his casino career in 1979 as a cage cashier at Resorts International in Atlantic City. In 1980, he was named to his first management position with the opening of the former Harrah's Marina property.
Over the next 33 years, Koch traveled the globe, which included a stay in Australia as the controller during the opening of Conrad International Hotel and Jupiter's Casino in the mid-1980s. Before joining Isle in 2010, Koch served as vice president and general manager of Ameristar Casino in Kansas City.
Koch stood out from a field of internal and external candidates, Block said.
"We knew we had someone, because of his long history of opening properties, who knew how important it was to get here and get integrated into the community," Block said. "We just felt he had the right skill-set, talents and maturity to undertake this project. ... We feel he can take the baton and transition very smoothly."
Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger said the "dream" of the casino is becoming more of a reality with each Isle announcement.
"It's real; it's here," Rediger said. "We're just awaiting now the ground breaking and it will be here before we know it."
Koch's appointment is pending regulatory approval by the Missouri Gaming Commission.
Work continues Thursday at the Isle of Capri casino site. Steel beams are being erected as construction of the main structure progresses. (Kristin Eberts) [Order this photo]
Construction crews began raising and installing steel beams earlier this week for the Isle of Capri casino building.
The steel building frame construction is expected to be completed sometime in February, according to Isle of Capri spokeswoman Jill Alexander.
The concrete basin that will hold the building's floating floor is complete. Work on the basin began in August.
Over the weekend, crews began pouring concrete for the floating floor and it will likely be completed today, Alexander said. According to Missouri law, the gaming floor of the casino building must "float" in a basin of water at least two feet deep.
Alexander said she could not disclose the amount of steel being used for the building or its cost because the company does not release itemized information. The total estimated cost for the entire project is $125 million, including $68 million to construct the casino building and the remainder for the relocation of North Main Street, property acquisition costs, furnishings and casino games. The casino is scheduled to open in late 2012.
So far the construction is on schedule, Alexander said. No weather delays through the winter would be nice, she said.
"Of course we are hoping for a mild winter, and we are pleased with all the work that has occurred up to this point," she said.
The city of Cape Girardeau regularly inspects the construction of the casino, as does the Missouri Gaming Commission. The city's director of development services did not return a call Thursday seeking comment and information on the city's inspection and any findings inspectors may have.
Busch Stadium during the first two days of the World Series was not the only place in St. Louis where players scored big.
Gamblers at River City cleaned up on the craps tables, causing the casino to lose a total of more than $1 million on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20. A state gaming official said Friday that such a loss was a first in St. Louis and maybe only the second in Missouri.
River City's loss was a big reason overall casino revenue in the St. Louis area fell 4 percent in October. A River City official took the rare setback in stride.
The next Missouri Gaming Commission meeting will be held Wednesday, December 7th at 9a.m. at the Missouri Gaming Commission office in Jefferson City. The agenda will be posted when it becomes available.
Gov. Nixon presents four veterans from World War II, Vietnam with Silver Star banners; says Veterans Day is reminder to honor veterans’ service and sacrifice
JEFFERSON CITY – In a ceremony today in his Capitol office, Gov. Jay Nixon presented four military veterans from Jefferson City from World War II and Vietnam with the Silver Star banner and certificate to honor their sacrifice. All the veterans incurred wounds, injuries or illness while serving in combat areas.
“As young men, these Missourians put themselves in harm’s way on behalf of our state and country,” Gov. Nixon said. “Many of their comrades did not come back. Many others, such as these veterans, came back with wounds or injuries they suffered while serving in combat areas. I am pleased to help honor their service to our nation with this award. As we approach Veterans Day, this week reminds us to honor year-round the service and sacrifice of those who wore our country’s uniform to protect us and our liberty.”
The Governor presented the Silver Star banners and certificates to Jefferson City residents:
Don Hentges, who served in the Army during Vietnam;
David Mauldin, who served in the Army during Vietnam;
Wilburn Rowden, who served in the Army Air Corps during World War II; and
Roger Stottlemyre, who served in the Marines during Vietnam.
In July 2009, Gov. Nixon signed House Bill 678, which sets May 1 by statute as the annual Silver Star Families of America Day. Silver Star Families of America Day is designated as a day for honoring the wounded and ill members of the armed forces in the state of Missouri, and for recognizing the efforts of the Silver Star Families of America in honoring injured veterans across the United States.