4 to be inducted into AGA’s Gaming Hall of Fame

Richard N. Velotta

A casino manager and philanthropist, the inventor of the automatic card shuffler, the man who brought “Wheel of Fortune” to casinos and a businessman who pioneered gaming along the Rancho Drive corridor and participated in the development of major Strip resorts will be inducted to the American Gaming Association’s Gaming Hall of Fame next month.

Diana Bennett, John Breeding, Joe Kaminkow and Melvin Wolzinger will be presented with the industry’s highest honor in an invitation-only ceremony Oct. 4 at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

“The class of 2017 is quite special in the unique ways they shaped the casino-gaming industry,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the association, which will bring about 26,000 industry professionals to the Sands Expo and Convention Center for its G2E show Oct. 3-5.

“From revolutionizing the way games are seen and experienced, to reshaping employee operations and business development, these leaders’ achievements extend throughout the nation and even the world,” Freeman said in a statement announcing the honorees.

The Gaming Hall of Fame, formed in 1989, has honored leaders who have distinguished themselves through significant contributions to the industry. This year, more than 100 people were nominated for the recognition with four selected by a committee of seven gaming industry stakeholders.

Diana Bennett

Bennett, daughter of industry icon William Bennett who led MGM ResortsInternational predecessor Circus Circus Enterprises, started her gaming career at the Flamingo. She eventually joined her father at Circus Circus and led the development of Excalibur and Luxor for the company.

She branched into computerized gaming systems and was president of Casino Data Systems, which was acquired by Australia-based Aristocrat Technologies in 2001.

Bennett worked with privately held Paragon Gaming and under her leadership developed River Cree Resort and Casino in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and led revitalization efforts at Las Vegas’ Riviera Hotel. Paragon also assumed operations at Westgate Las Vegas and the Hooters Hotel, acquiring the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Lake Tahoe and developing Parq Vancouver.

Today, Bennett is president of the Bennett Family Foundation leading charitable efforts for youth and women’s organizations, educational and health initiatives and the arts.

At a glance

The Global Gaming Expo is the largest annual gathering of the $240 billion U.S. casino industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states and is Nevada’s dominant employer.

PARAGONRenata Follmann