As Chairman of the Board and co-founder of Paragon Gaming, a developer and operator of gaming based properties, Diana Bennett is a second-generation casino operator and one of the most effective and respected executives in the gaming industry today. She and her partner, Scott Menke, have created a company that developed and now manages the Edgewater Casino in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. They are also under construction with Parq Vancouver, the largest destination resort in Vancouver. Paragon Gaming owns the Hard Rock in Lake Tahoe Nevada and manages the Westgate Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. They previously developed, constructed and managed the River Cree Hotel and Casino in Edmonton, Canada.
Following college at Arizona State University, Ms. Bennett’s career started under the tutelage of her father, industry icon William Bennett. As an executive of Circus Circus Enterprises’ leadership team, Ms Bennett opened and operated multiple gaming operations which became landmark gaming properties, including the Luxor and Excalibur on the Las Vegas Strip. She also led the merger of the executive staffs of the Edgewater Hotel/Casino and the Colorado Belle Hotel/Casino in Laughlin, Nevada. She directed the purchase, takeover, and integration of new management into one of the timeless icons of the Las Vegas Strip, the Sahara Hotel and Casino, acquired by the Bennett family’s Gordon Gaming division in 1995.
She has been personally responsible for management of multiple casino operations and has been licensed in multiple gaming jurisdictions. She is recognized as an expert in establishing gaming systems, and served as President and Chief Operating Office of Casino Data Systems (CDS), where she planned, grew and managed one of the major gaming manufacturers in North America.
Diana Bennett previously served as chairman of the Board of Directors of Three Square. She currently is a board member with Noah’s Animal House and the Greater Good Council. She sits on the Executive committee of the UNLV Foundation Board as well as serving on the Board of Directors for the Black Mountain Institute at UNLV. As President of the Bennett Family Foundation, she supports a variety of youth and women’s organizations including Casa de Luz, Nevada Ballet Theater, the Nevada Children’s Center and Opportunity Village. She is recognized for her support of the “I Have A Dream” Foundation-Las Vegas in 2009. Since 1994, she has been repeatedly named as an Outstanding Women of Nevada. In 2007, she was recognized as one of the Top Ten Great Women of Gaming in the US. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Nevada Las Vegas on May 16, 2015.
As CEO and co-founder of Paragon Gaming, a developer and operator of gaming based properties, Mr. Menke is a visionary in the world of multi-million dollar resort development, with over twenty years of experience in acquiring developing, opening and operating hotels and casinos. He and his partner, Diana Bennett, have created a company that developed and now manages the Edgewater Casino in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. They are also under construction with Parq Vancouver, the largest destination resort in Vancouver. Paragon Gaming owns the Hard Rock in Lake Tahoe Nevada and manages the Westgate Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. They previously developed, constructed and managed the River Cree Hotel and Casino in Edmonton, Canada.
Mr. Menke is responsible for identifying and securing gaming and development opportunities. Upon graduating from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Hotel School, he entered hotel/casino operations with the development of the Colorado Belle Hotel/Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, which set a new standard for the Laughlin area that is still maintained today. Scott later became responsible for coordinating the construction and development efforts of Circus Circus Enterprises. Reporting directly to Founder/Chairman William Bennett, he oversaw the creation of over 10,000 hotel rooms, including the Excalibur and Luxor properties, two of the most successful themed destination properties in Las Vegas.
As a senior member of Mr. Bennett’s team, he structured the acquisition of the Sahara Hotel and Casino by Gordon Gaming within a total transaction period of under 6 months, and played a key role in the redevelopment and transition of that property to the current Sahara management team. In 1997, he led the successful reorganization of the landmark Oasis Hotel/Casino on behalf of Mr. Si Redd, the founder of International Gaming Technology.
Mr. Menke is a supporter of the Nevada Children’s Heart Association and is a member of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Foundation as well as being honored by Boys Town Nevada for his support in 2016.
John Groom brings over 40 years of casino and hospitality operations expertise to Paragon Gaming with emphasis in international destination entertainment gaming. After graduating with a B.A. in Economics from the Catholic University of America, John learned table games in Las Vegas, moving on to Caesars Atlantic City where he headed casino operations for almost a decade. As EVP, John established Caesars as the industry leader in customer service, retention of employees, and slot and table game innovation.
John was next tapped by Caesars World to lead the development of what was to be the largest casino in the US, Caesars New Orleans. When the license was awarded to Harrah’s, John was again reassigned by Caesars to head all property operations at Caesars Palace. Among his most significant accomplishments at CP were the full integration of minorities and women into casino operations at all levels of management and a renewed emphasis on delivering superior customer service.
When Caesars was sold to ITT in 1995, John was recruited by Bally’s Park Place as EVP to lead the design and development of the company’s Paris themed resort. The following year, John was hired by Players International to head operations of its Midwest gaming operations where he was soon promoted to COO and was invited to join the Board of Directors. John was later promoted to President and CEO and executed the Board’s exit strategy by selling the company to Harrah’s in 2001.
In 2001, John returned to Caesars Palace as President and COO where he managed a massive property expansion and renovation, culminating in a five year contract with Celine Dion, the introduction of celebrity chef Bradley Ogden, and a fully redesigned casino floor. Upon his departure from CP in 2003, John founded his own casino development company that pursued opportunities in Native American and Canadian Aboriginal markets, developing five moderately sized casinos.
Currently, John leads all operational strategic planning, resource allocation, operational processes and process improvements and manages the implementation of all operational budgets and timelines.
Mr. Cahill is a principal of Paragon and a founding member of the management team. He has over thirty years of experience in all phases of real estate development, with a special emphasis on pre-construction project management. He has personally directed the planning and approval of such Southern California landmark projects as the Pasadena Marketplace (Old Town, Pasadena), Pierside Redevelopment (Huntington Beach, California), and Fess Parker’s Park Plaza Hotel (Santa Barbara, California).
In the mid 1980’s, Mr. Cahill transitioned from representing developer interests to representing major landowners, with a client focus on the real estate portfolios of family trusts. He has successfully managed the strategic planning and entitlements of real estate assets for such major land owners in California and Hawaii as the Fess Parker Family Trust (Santa Barbara), the William D. Wright Family Trust (Santa Barbara), the Linda Page Family Trust (Santa Barbara), and the James S. Greenwell Family Trust (Lanihau Partners LP/Palani Ranch, Hawaii). His ability to identify and define process and seek resolution to difficult land use issues resulted in, among other matters, his participation as a facilitator in major disputes between property owners and governments, such as the approval of development of Nichols Ranch (Ventura, California).
Mr. Cahill’s company, Beijing, Inc., has been under contract to Paragon Gaming LLC since its inception. He brings to Paragon the knowledge and ability to deal with complex entitlement and approval processes, and the unique experience of successfully managing diverse, intergenerational family trust interests, which often parallel the concerns and goals of Paragon’s First Nation partners. At Paragon, Mr. Cahill is responsible for securing all project entitlements and development approvals, including designations, environmental approvals, infrastructure and essential services, and demonstrating compliance with the real estate and development aspects of casino facility licenses. Additionally, Mr. Cahill is a member of the board of directors of both the Enoch Paragon LP and the Alexis Paragon LP, and serves as secretary to those governance bodies.
Dennis Amerine, CPA, brings over 30 years of experience in the gaming industry to Paragon Gaming, much of which was with Nevada’s State Gaming Control Board, the primary enforcement arm of the State’s casino regulatory system.
Mr. Amerine began his career as an entry-level agent in the Gaming Control Board’s Audit Division in 1977. He was promoted to Chief of the Audit Division in 1985 and was responsible for nearly 100 professional staff accountants statewide. In 1987, Mr. Amerine was appointed by the Governor as a member of the three-member State Gaming Control Board. During his tenure as a member of the State Gaming Control Board, he spearheaded significant changes to Nevada’s regulations. He was responsible for major revisions to slot machine regulation, accounting regulations including the development of minimum internal control standards, regulations concerning race and sports books and was directly involved in the drafting and implementation of Regulation 6A which governed currency transaction reporting.
Mr. Amerine has been an advisor to the U.S. Department of the Treasury since 1999 in the area of gaming regulation and control with emphasis on prevention of financial crimes, including money laundering in casinos. In his role, Mr. Amerine assists foreign governments in developing gaming regulatory structures to deter and detect financial crimes and to ensure that casinos are operated in accordance with international standards. To date, these jurisdictions include Bulgaria, Kosovo, Romania, Moldova, Armenia, Peru, Costa Rica, Chile, Panama, Haiti and several Eastern Caribbean countries.
He provides invaluable insight into the regulatory framework of Paragon Gaming’s projects.
Mr. Amerine is a member of the American Institute of CPA’s and an Advisory Board Member for the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling.
Steve Manzanares is a key member of the decision-making team and works closely with other team leaders to encourage growth and pursue improvements to operational processes. Additionally, he is responsible for Paragon’s budgetary and accounting functions as well as serving as a liaison between senior management teams.
After graduating from the University of Nevada Las Vegas with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Steve proceeded to acquire over 15 years of accounting and financial experience in the gaming industry, in which he has occupied multiple management roles in accounting and finance at The Mirage, Bellagio, MGM Resorts International and Treasure Island, in addition to serving as Treasure Island’s Chief Financial Officer. As Treasure Island’s CFO, Steve was responsible for all finance and accounting functions including the responsibility for reporting the property’s financial results.
Mr. Rowe has more than twenty years of hospitality experience including extensive knowledge of operations and marketing.
Mr. Rowe works closely with the property teams to develop their sales, marketing, and entertainment strategies. Mr. Rowe also has extensive experience in Public Relations, and Governmental Affairs.
Mr. Behrens is a Cornell University trained, lodging & gaming professional with twenty years’ experience. He is recognized for utilizing a deep understanding of hospitality operations to drive sound planning and fiscally responsible decisions.
Mr. Behrens’ is proficient in developing annual operating budgets, forecasts, and strategic plans including all casino, hotel, food, beverage, and other operating departments. He has composed and maintained management reporting tools for several major casino resorts. He also performs ad-hoc analysis in support of operating departments including profitability analysis, labor analysis, hours of operations, and menu engineering.
Mr. Winward was instrumental in developing and managing the first successful slot bonusing program in the gaming industry. Jumbo Jackpot, Station Casinos multi-property carded bonus progressive with an “everybody wins” component, has been recognized as one of the most successful marketing programs in the last 10 years.
As Corporate Director of Slot/Gaming Systems for Station Casinos, Mr Winward spearheaded design of multiple bonus and marketing products for slots, bingo, keno, poker and table games from an IT, operational and marketing perspective. Tom developed and designed automated slot, table and bingo analysis reporting systems to maximize revenues by game type, location and denomination/spread on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
Mr Winward has designed player profitability and guest contact applications and reporting that utilize the theoretical value of the player as well as actual win and frequency. The process created is then able to create a normalized look at all players ruling out volatility which can often skew the analysis of a player.
Mr. Winward’s work with Paragon includes the integration of data provided by the BCLC and AGLC, assisting the properties in profiling guests and developing marketing programs as well as direct mail and telemarketing list creation. In addition Mr. Winward provides marketing support for clients with kiosk, web and mobile application integration.
Ms. Jayanathan’s twenty-five years of hospitality experience run the gamut of all aspects of operations and management. Ms. Jayanathan has developed and implemented brand standards for some of the premier hotel brands including St. Regis, Disney, Wynn, Ritz Carlton, and Marriott.
Ms. Jayanathan has direct experience managing and preparing budgets, forecasts and payroll of small and large organizations with a key focus in Rooms, Housekeeping and Laundry management. As a highly proactive leader she has managed multiple projects while also developing and mentoring direct reports to reach their potential; while also establishing and maintaining a partnership with vendors, senior executives, department heads and union leaders to produce the greatest results.
As Asset Manager for Paragon Gaming, Ms. Jayanathan keen eye for detail is deployed to insure that all of Paragon’s properties maintain the highest standards. She performs regular site inspections, brand standard audits, evaluates and approves capital expenditures, oversees facility improvements, and mentors managers and staff.