William Speller abruptly resigned his position as president of Connecticut’s Foxwoods Casino Resort, after only 18 months on the job. The casino, owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Indian tribe, announced only that Speller resigned to “pursue other career opportunities,” and that he would not be available for media interviews.
The tribe also announced that William Sherlock, a former president and CEO of Foxwoods, has assumed the role of an interim president while a search for a new chief executive is initiated.
Speller’s short tenure at Foxwoods—the latest in a succession of short runs atop the troubled property—was a stormy one, as the tribe has searched for ways to restructure debt exceeding $2 billion, its lawyers peondering whether bankruptcy would be an option for a sovereign entitiy. Declining revenues in Connecticut left the tribe unable to finance the debt, bilt up as Foxwoods expanded through several projects—the latest being the new MGM Grand at Foxwoods casino and hotel.
The tribe has received extensions from lenders while negotiating with banks an and bondholders on refinancing arrangements. Meanwhile, the Mashantuckets were unable to secure financing for the Foxwoods Philadelphia project, leaving their local partners searching for a new financing deal while on the brink of losing their Pennsylvania license.
Speller joined Foxwood when it opened in 1992, and was named president in Deceber 2008. He introduced the “rolling chip” reward program for bacccarat, making Foxwoods the first U.S. casino to offer the popular Asian promotion, and emphasized first-class service during his tenure.
In the tribe’s statement announcing the resignation, Tribal Council Chairman Rodney Butler thanked Speller for his “success in assembling an effective and cohesive management team and heading Foxwoods in the right direction.”
Sherlock was president and CEO of Foxwoods for six years, retiring in 2006. During his tenure, he oversaw a $300 million expansion and played a key role in planning the MGM Grand addition. He his currently chairman of the board of a Texas-based casino operator Nevada Gold, a position he will retain and return to at the end of the Foxwoods executive search, which is expected to take several months.