For more than two decades, Peter George was one of the most influential gaming executives in the United Kingdom. He was the chief executive officer of Ladbroke Group Plc, a company that operated hundreds of bookmaking shops throughout England.
In the late 80’s, Ladbroke expanded to the U.S. by buying up a couple of racetracks with the intention of expanding their gaming empire. A close friendship between Steve Bollenbach, then CEO of Hilton Hotels Inc. (HLT) and Hilton Gaming, resulted in Bollenbach joining the board of George’s company, and George becoming a member of the board of directors of HLT.
However, for George, all good things came to an end a couple of years ago when he was sent out to pasture because his company, actually a division of Hilton Group Plc, decided to concentrate more on its international hotel activities and less on its bookmaking. The U.S racetracks and a California card club had been sold off so there were no remaining gaming ties to the U.S.
Shortly after leaving his English company, George was hired by Park Place Entertainment Corporation (PPE) as senior vice for international development. At the time, PPE appeared to have a strong interest in a European-based Internet gambling site. With the recent changes in upper management, Park Place Entertainment seems to have lessened its international interests with the intention of solidifying its varied gaming interests in North America.
Thus, it was not very surprising last week when PPE’s president and CEO Wally Barr announced that George had agreed to expand his responsibilities to include gaming development projects in the United States.
In his new role, Barr explained, George will be responsible for identifying, evaluating and initiating development projects in U.S. gaming markets.