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Here is a round up of business news from around Indian Country.

Executive changes

• The top executive at Uncasville, Conn.-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, the gaming enterprise of the Mohegan Tribe, will step down from the organization. President and CEO Mario Kontomerkos will resign from the position effective March 31, according to a statement. Kontomerkos first joined Mohegan Gaming as CFO and “played a critical role in the growth and success of the organization,” Tribal Chairman James Gessner, Jr. said in a statement. The CEO role will be filled on an interim basis by COO Ray Pineault, a tribal member with more than two decades of experience at Mohegan Gaming. Previously, Pineault served as regional president at Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and as president and general manager of the Mohegan Sun property in Connecticut. Additionally, the enterprise announced that it hired Carol Anderson as its new CFO. Anderson has a background in finance and law and will help Mohegan Gaming with accessing global capital markets, financial planning and analysis, and implementing global financial and accounting practices, according to a statement. Previously, Anderson served as senior vice president of treasury and capital markets and associate general counsel at Las Vegas-based Scientific Games Corp.

• Rodney Ferguson, the CEO and general manager of the Forest County Potawatomi Community’s Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee, Wis., will step down to take the role of executive vice president of gaming and resort operations for the Pamunkey Indian Tribal Gaming Authority, starting April 12. In the new role, Ferguson, a more than 30-year veteran of the gaming industry, will represent the Pamunkey Tribe’s interests in the planned $500 million Norfolk Resort & Casino in Norfolk, Va., on which Tribal Business News previously reported. The move marks a homecoming for Ferguson, who was born in Virginia. “He understands the business and he understands the community,” Robert Gray, Chief of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, said in a statement. “We couldn’t have found a better combination of talent and integrity.”


• The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened The Book sports betting venues at its Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, N.C. and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel in Murphy, N.C. on March 18. The tribe is working with Caesars Entertainment and sportsbook operator William Hill. The Book venues offer high-definition screens, beverage service and recliners and allow guests to place bets at ticket writer windows or self-serve kiosks. The locations offer North Carolina’s first legal sports betting, according to a statement. 

Health care

• Psychologist Victoria O’Keefe, Ph.D. was named the Santosham Chair in Native American Health, a new five-year faculty position at the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, a part of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. O’Keefe, a member of the Cherokee and Seminole Nations of Oklahoma, has developed culturally-driven behavioral health interventions in partnership with Native American communities. O’Keefe was the first-ever tenure track faculty member of Native American heritage at Johns Hopkins University, according to a statement. In the new role, O’Keefe will support Native American research that will further “culturally competent innovations that leverage tribal sovereignty and build upon community strengths.”

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