Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International and one of the most controversial figures in the regional gaming industry, has announced he will step down from the company.
Murren did not offer a reason for his decision, nor did he provide a specific date of departure. He stated that he would remain in office until a successor is named.
“Leading MGM Resorts has been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience in my professional career,” said Murren, who joined the company in 1998 and served as chairman and CEO since 2008. “We have a solid leadership team in place and I am confident that they will work with my successor to continue the company’s trajectory of growth and expansion.”
Within Connecticut, Murren led MGM Resorts in an assault against state law that gives exclusive gaming rights to the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes. In 2017, Murren proposed building an MGM Resorts-operated casino resort in Bridgeport, and repeatedly noted the city was his hometown during his presentations.
However, the company failed to lobby state legislators to open gaming to nontribal entities, and newly proposed legislation is seeking to award the tribes the license to build a Bridgeport casino.
MGM Resorts also influenced the U.S. Department of the Interior to delay approving a tribal casino in East Windsor and later sued the agency for its approval of the project. The company opened its own casino a few miles from East Windsor in Springfield, Massachusetts.
But Murren has also run into problems in the region. The Springfield casino has been severely underperforming; it marked its first anniversary in business last August with $252.8 million in gambling revenue, far below the $412 million that the company projected for its first year.
In 2018, MGM Resorts announced it was acquiring Empire City Casino and Yonkers
Raceway in Yonkers for approximately $850 million, but has yet to get a license from the state’s gaming commission to expand its offerings beyond slot machines and electronic table games.
Murren expressed disappointment with the Yonkers situation during a speech before The Business Council of Westchester’s annual dinner in October.
“I don’t want to be in the commodity business,” Murren said at that event. “Anyone can run a slot machine house or manage somebody else’s property. We feel like what we do very well is develop an entertainment environment. And, if we don’t feel that we can make that differentiating edge, we don’t need to be in every gaming market. And, we’re not in all of them.”