Red Rock president seeks gaming license as Culinary Union demands answers

September 6, 2023 8:36 PM
Photo: Culinary Workers Union Local 226 (courtesy)
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
September 6, 2023 8:36 PM

The Culinary Union showed up in force Wednesday at the Nevada Gaming Control Board, where the board’s three members recommended that Red Rock Resorts President Scott Kreeger be licensed by the Gaming Commission when it meets in two weeks.

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As part of a normal hearing on an application for finding of suitability as an officer and key executive, the approval was routine for Kreeger, who was appointed president in February 2022.

But the Culinary Union has been pushing for a first-time contract with Red Rock, to no avail. It’s also seeking answers from the company about targeting employees for dismissal who backed the union.

Negotiations are ongoing and the union complaints are being considered by the National Labor Relations Board.

Former employees, many citing their dismissal over union involvement, want their jobs back with the company after they were let go when Station Casinos’s properties reopened from the pandemic shutdown in June 2020.

Current employees of Stations also appeared at the hearing and spoke positively about working for the company.

Kreeger returned to the company in September 2021 from Galaxy Entertainment Group in Macau where he’d been director of operations and new resorts since 2018. Prior to his Red Rock appointment as president, Kreeger served as vice president of development. He started with Red Rock in 2000 and left in 2013 to join Revel Resort and Casino in Atlantic City as president and COO. Kreeger remained at Revel until the sale of that property, then joined SLS Las Vegas Resort and Casino, where he was employed from October 2014 through December 2017 as president and COO.

“Scott should be a familiar face to the Board members and staff, since he’s been licensed here before, most recently in 2015 with SLS Las Vegas,” said gaming attorney Marc Rubinstein who represents Station Casinos.

Kreeger said the last time he was up before the Board in 2015, he was working for the private-equity company controlling SLS, which was going through some turbulent times. He had a two-year contract to get the property on stable financial footing and find an exit path. When his contract expired, Kreeger took the job in Macau.

“I had an opportunity to work in a lot of major jurisdictions in the U.S. and learned something new,” Kreeger said. “I can tell you going to Macau was a master’s class both culturally and professionally. My responsibilities were all future-phase development that totaled $6 billion worth of hotel, resort, international conference center, and 17,000-seat arena. Unfortunately, COVID hit and at the time, I shifted my family back to the U.S. Based on border regulations, I was separated from them for about a year and a half, so when I got my first opportunity to come back to the U.S., I called (the Fertittas, the family who founded the gaming company), who I’d worked for in the past, and was fortunate enough to rejoin the company.”

Kreeger called Station Casinos a 47-year-old growth company, so when he returned two years ago, he helped rewrite the roadmap of growth for the company.

“Deciding what to do with legacy assets and real-estate holdings and recreating a pipeline of growth throughout the valley,” Kreeger said. “If I described my primary role thus far, it’s to create that growth story, articulate it to investors and Wall Street, and start the entitlement and real-estate acquisition process, which is a 10-year plan for growth for the company.”

Board Chairman Kirk Hendrick cited no areas of concern in Kreeger’s application, finances, or suitability.

“You have a very impressive resumé in dozens of locations in Las Vegas and Macau,” said board member Judge George Assad. “There are no concerns and conditions. Station Casinos is employing about 8,400 employees at 16 locations, so you have a big job ahead of you. It should be noted that a lot of people have done very well working for Stations and it’s a good company to work with, from what we heard from many of the employees here.”

During the public-comment session prior to the formal agenda, several speakers represented the Culinary Union and former Station Casino employees.

Zachary Poppel, a researcher at the Culinary Union Local 226, told the Board they sought a meeting with Kreeger, but he and the company’s attorney refused.

“Mr. Kreeger’s job description talks about promoting the interest of the company, but the interests of the company are in this room,” Poppel said. “They are the workers. They are the people who make the drinks and clean the rooms, serve the food, and haul the trash. This is about democracy and respect. The workers at Station Casinos voted overwhelmingly to unionize and are fighting for a fair contract and respect and we believe it’s up to Mr. Kreeger to change his mind and have an opportunity to meet with the workers.”

Other than Assad’s comment praising the company in general, the Board didn’t address the issue during their hearing with Kreeger.

Kreeger succeeded Red Rock President Richard Haskins who died in July 2020 in a watercraft accident in Michigan.