Casino Entrepreneur/Manager Grows Indian Casinos At Record Rate

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Profile of "The Donald Trump of Indian Casinos"

“I don’t know who started this thing calling me the ‘Donald Trump of Indian Casinos’, and I haven’t decided if I like it or not,” mused Gary Green as he stood in the middle of 60 acres along Interstate Highway 40 just east of Oklahoma City.

“We are putting a 125,000 square foot casino here with 2,500 machines, a food court, and a buffet; oh and it will be open 89 days from today,” he added as he viewed the empty field with his Chief Financial Officer, Frank Haas.

The field is empty but the promise of the opening date is not. And the name-handle probably came about somewhere between Green’s lightening two-week financing for the project and his equally quick turn around of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe’s Thunderbird Wild Wild West Casino (in Norman Oklahoma) increasing revenue by $15-million in 90 days. Or perhaps it came about somewhere between financing $13-million in three days to rebuild the Thunderbird and the fact that both Green and his CFO are alumni of Trump’s southern California Trump 29 casino. Green ran marketing there and Haas was the comptroller.

There is no question that Green learned from the Trump school: his billboards in central Oklahoma feature Green in sunglasses with a cigar and a mixed drink and surrounded by eight feather-clad show girls…and the players club inside the Thunderbird Casino features Gary Green bobble-head dolls for players to earn with points. New members of the players club earn a tee-shirt printed with a photo of the showgirls and Green.

Green’s high-speed ascension as the operator of two of the largest casinos in the Midwest is matched only by the three other casino projects he has on the table to open before the end of 2005: two more in Oklahoma and one in Nevada. And at the same time he is spearheading an organization with the Absentee Shawnee Tribe to manage several other tribes’ casinos under the NIGC’s management contract provisions.

“Here is the thing:” he explains, “I have an attitude that when I want something done I want it done right now. Not in 60 days. Not in six hours. I want it right now. When you absolutely run the joint, you can make that happen.”

And he means it. He has already fired two architects for telling him he could not start from scratch and build a huge casino in 90 days. He finally found a team of engineers that developed a short-cut method a simultaneously building disjointed portions of the project and assembling them like tinker toys in 21 days (as Green explains it).

“When I was in Southern California I learned from a number of my employees that if I wanted something instantly I had to demand it “en chinga”; which is a not-too-flattering or polite Spanish idiom that means “right (expletive) now”. That is how I want things done. Pure adrenaline” he added.

His get-it-done philosophy has taken hold to such a degree that his staff of 400 all wear buttons that say “Right Now”. And with the backing of the leadership of the 3,000-member Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, that staff will be doubling within the next two months.

“The big operators in Indian Country, the big players in the Native American world, Harrah’s, Stations, and the like, can’t give the personal hands-on care or the “right now” attitude that I demand. Bureaucracies talk for years about doing things; I can’t stand that. I want them now,” he coyly adds knowing full well that when his current projects are completed he will be the third largest operator of Native American gaming.

“Third? I want to be THE operator,” he says…with attitude.

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Georgiana Francisco
ByGeorge Communications
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