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Lombardo names former Venetian executive Markantonis to gaming commission

Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
EconomyGaming
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Fourteen months ago, George Markantonis was licensed by the Nevada Gaming Commission as CEO of the Venetian and Palazzo resorts.

Now, he will be sitting on the other side of the dais.

Gov. Joe Lombardo on Thursday appointed Markantonis to the five-person gaming commission, replacing Las Vegas attorney Steven Cohen, who didn’t seek reappointment to the part-time panel that makes the final decision on licensing and other regulatory matters based on recommendations from the full-time Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Markantonis, who spent seven years as CEO of The Venetian, initially remained in his role after the $6.25 billion sale of the resort complex that includes the Palazzo and Venetian Expo to Apollo Global Management and real estate investment trust VICI Properties was finalized in February, ending the Las Vegas Sands’ decades-long tenure on the Strip.

Apollo named former Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas executive Patrick Nichols as CEO four months later and Markantonis transitioned into a role as a special adviser to the Apollo board.

He becomes just the second former gaming executive in state history to serve on the gaming commission. Michonne Ascuaga, a former executive with the Sparks Nugget when the Ascuaga family owned the property, was appointed to the commission in 2015 by then-Gov. Brian Sandoval.

In addition to his tenure with Sands, Markantonis spent time with Caesars Palace before becoming CEO for Kerzner International where he oversaw development of the company’s flagship Atlantis resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas, and The Palm in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

In a statement, Markantonis thanked Lombardo for the appointment.

“I look forward to utilizing my industry experiences to serve the commission in its work protecting the integrity of Nevada’s gaming industry and the interests of all the Nevadans who rely on its ongoing success for their livelihoods,” he said.

Markantonis also spent 17 years with Westin Hotels & Resorts in South Africa, Canada and the U.S.

“George is an experienced gaming executive with international and multijurisdictional experience,” Lombardo said in a statement. “I appreciate his willingness to serve our state. I know that George’s proven leadership, outstanding character, and decades of experience will be a tremendous asset on the Nevada Gaming Commission.”

The appointment was Lombardo’s second selection to commission. In January, he appointed former state Treasurer and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki to the commission to replace Ben Kieckhefer, who became the governor’s chief of staff.

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