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New general manager arrives as Harrah’s

Sally J. Taylor

A change of command took shape over the weekend at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.

Pat Dennehy, the hotel/casino’s new senior vice president and general manager, arrived Saturday. He comes from Harrah’s Joliet in Illinois where he worked for the past two years as senior vice president and general manager of the riverboat casino near Chicago.

“I have to learn a lot about this market,” said Dennehy, 49, on Sunday from the front steps of Harrah’s. “I understand there are a lot of dynamics at work here. I’ll be asking a lot of questions.”

He replaces Dan Barnett, 47, who, according to a press release distributed Friday, is expected to assume a new role with the company.

To help the transition, Ken Kettler, vice president of casino operations, will delay his departure to Harrah’s North Kansas City in Missouri until after Labor Day.

Harrah’s officials declined to explain the reason for the sudden change.

Dennehy learned of the transfer late last week.

“That’s what happens in this business when opportunity comes,” he said. “You always know if something happens, you might be considered (for a position).”

Dennehy has extensive experience in operations, finance and marketing, having worked 13 years at Harrah’s Atlantic City and a brief tenure at a competitor casino company before assuming the Joliet position in 1995.

In Atlantic City, “you hoped only to be as good as Harrah’s Tahoe. You’ve created such a service culture here,” Dennehy said, characterizing his move from Atlantic City to Joliet to Lake Tahoe as an “incredible journey.”

Dennehy and his wife Rosann have a high-school aged son who will also move to Lake Tahoe and four grown children on the East Coast.

Dennehy graduated from Villanova University in 1969 with a degree in education. He taught and coached football for several years before entering the gaming business in 1978 in Atlantic City.

In Illinois, Dennehy was the president of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association where he worked extensively on legislative issues impacting the gaming industry.

Hector Mon, division president of Harrah’s responsible for the company’s Nevada operations, commended Dennehy’s leadership when legalization of riverboat gaming in Indiana dramatically increased Joliet’s competition.

“Throughout this challenge, Pat has kept Harrah’s Joliet one of the highest quality, service oriented and most well respected riverboat casinos in the nation,” Mon said. “We feel confident Pat will bring Harrah’s Lake Tahoe the vision, leadership and focused service intensity that the property needs to successfully compete in the Lake Tahoe market, to play an integral part in the overall Harrah’s brand strategy and to live up to the property’s 40 years of industry leadership.”

Dennehy’s appointment is subject to regulatory approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission. His replacement at Harrah’s Joliet will be announced in the near future.


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