Lee suddenly bolts from Pinnacle’s CEO post

Nov 10, 2009 4:35 AM
Industry Insider by Ray Poirier |

Dan Lee, the Wall Street executive who left to join Steve Wynn in the development of the Mirage Resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, has resigned as chairman, CEO and a director of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK).

Monday’s announcement shocked the gaming industry but was not unexpected in Missouri where his conduct at a County Council meeting is under investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Reports out of St. Louis, Missouri, where Pinnacle Entertainment plans to open a $350 million casino complex next year, indicated that the target of Lee’s remarks was County Council member Steve Stenger. The Pinnacle casino complex is in Stenger’s district.

Stenger said Lee had asked him to vote against a zoning plan proposed by another company that wants to build a casino in north St. Louis County. Stenger said he saw no reason to oppose the zoning plan and voted for it.

Lee reportedly then approached Stenger’s assistant, Linda Henry, and said, "He just made the worst move in his political career. I won’t forget that. I never forget things like this."

Addressing his conduct at the meeting, Lee issued a statement saying, "I apologize for making anyone uncomfortable, which certainly was not my intent. I was passionate in my discussion of the issue, which is important to our neighborhood and to the investment and jobs at River City. However, I did not mean to cause offense to anyone, including Councilman Stenger and his staff."

Replacing Lee on an interim basis are Richard J. Goeglein former CEO of Aladdin Gaming, as nonexecutive chairman, and John V. Giovenco, former CEO of Hilton Gaming Corp., as chief executive officer.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Ray Poirier