Foxwoods CEO resigns amid shutdown, effective immediately
Mashantucket — John James, president and chief executive officer of Foxwoods Resort Casino, has resigned after eight months, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council confirmed Tuesday.
"John has left his position to spend more time with his family," the council said in a statement issued through Foxwoods' Boston-based public relations firm, Shift Communications.
Foxwoods informed employees of James' resignation in an earlier communication. He "has left his position to spend more time with his family and focus on his overall health and wellness in a time that it is critically important for all of us to do," the message said.
Jason Guyot, Foxwoods senior vice president of resort operations, has agreed to act as interim CEO while a search for James' successor takes place, Foxwoods said. Guyot is a member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns the casino.
Neither James nor Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket chairman, answered messages seeking comment. Shift Communications said "interviews or additional responses" were unavailable.
James, 59, became president and CEO in August, several weeks after being named to succeed Felix Rappaport, who died of an apparent heart attack in June 2018. Butler served as interim CEO during the protracted search for Rappaport's successor.
Before arriving at Foxwoods, James spent more than 25 years in gaming and hospitality, including stints in Las Vegas and with tribal casinos in Florida and the western U.S. He was the chief operating officer of Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif., when he landed the Foxwoods job.
With the coronavirus outbreak threatening, both Foxwoods and its tribal gaming rival, Mohegan Sun, voluntarily closed March 17 at the urging of Gov. Ned Lamont. While the casinos have extended their closure to April 30, it's unclear when they will reopen.
Foxwoods has furloughed most of its more than 5,000 employees. Its most recent quarterly report indicated its long-term debt totaled $1.9 billion, including a $257.4 million loan payment due June 30.
"The Tribal Council believes that together with our talented executive team, Foxwoods will continue to focus on managing through the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis and the re-opening of our facilities at an appropriate time in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of the members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, our Team Members, and the public as a whole," Foxwoods said. "We are currently focused on a strategic reopening plan which will take into consideration safe and social distancing guidelines. We will share updates as our plans are solidified."