Hard Rock Biloxi sale to Twin River complete

Raziano named general manager

meperez@sunherald.com Twitter: MaryPerezSHJuly 10, 2014 

BILOXI -- The $250 million sale of Hard Rock Casino Biloxi was finalized Wednesday and new owner Twin River Management Group already is at work on improvements.

"We have a plan and our folks are on the ground today," said John Taylor Jr., chairman of Twin River, which is headquartered in Rhode Island.

Many things won't change, Taylor said, including the name. The iconic Hard Rock name and brand were licensed as part of the sale. The same players club card will be used and improved and Taylor said there would be no sweeping changes of staff.

"We were very impressed with the property and the team that existed there," he said.

Twin River's headquarters will remain in Rhode Island, and he said Hard Rock Biloxi will be run by a local management team.

The new general manager is Todd Raziano, who has been the chief financial officer at Hard Rock since 2005. He's also worked at Beau Rivage and Casino Magic in both Biloxi and Bay St. Louis during his 20-year career in casinos and finance.

"He understands the market," Taylor said.

Twin River announced the impending sale in December and has had time to plan its priorities.

The property as a world-class resort was enhanced by the addition of the second tower this year, he said. "That's what we're really excited about. We think that there's ways to use those rooms to better drive growth at the facility."

One clear focus will be table games, which he said hold a lot of potential at Hard Rock and "may lead over time to some changes on the floor."

The Twin River management was impressed with the level of customer service at the Biloxi resort, he said, and will combine that with a different kind of communication with the players to enhance customer experience.

Taylor said Twin River was attracted to Biloxi by the relative stability of the market and said "without question" there can be some crossover experiences and sharing of best practices with the Rhode Island casino and the company's horse-race track just outside Denver.

"This is a critically important day in the history of Twin River," he said after the Hard Rock sale closed Thursday.

"Our long-term vision all along was to strengthen Twin River as a business so that we might create greater value for our various stakeholders and at the same time, mitigate competitive threats, particularly with respect to Massachusetts casinos."

He said the acquisition of the Hard Rock Biloxi makes Twin River "a financially stronger, more diversified business."

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