Blood-Horse Publications

Pinnacle Names GM for River Downs in Ohio

Pinnacle has named a general manager for soon-to-be-acquired River Downs in Ohio.

Pinnacle Entertainment has named Kevin Kaufman, general manager of its Belterra Casino in Indiana, as general manager of River Downs in Ohio.

Las Vegas-based Pinnacle is in the process of closing on its $45 million purchase of River Downs near Cincinnati. The Ohio State Racing Commission Jan. 13 approved a license transfer to Pinnacle.

Pinnacle chief executive officer Anthony Sanfilippo made the announcement in a letter to employees on the company’s website. He said Kaufman will report to Carlos Ruisanchez, the company’s executive vice president of strategy and development who led the effort to acquire River Downs.

“The acquisition of River Downs, which is expected to be completed in January, represents a strategically important transaction for Pinnacle Entertainment,” Sanfilippo said. “The transaction also positions our company to take advantage of video lottery terminals at tracks in Ohio, should they become operational in the state.

“In this new role, Kevin will oversee all day-to-day operations of the racetrack, as well as the transition of the property and its team members into the Pinnacle family.”

Ohio racetracks are awaiting word from incoming Republican Gov. John Kasich as to whether he will move forward with a directive from outgoing Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland to the Ohio Lottery to install VLTs at Ohio's seven racetracks.

Pinnacle officials met with River Downs employees Jan. 4 to discuss the transition. River Downs is privately held by a California-based group.

Belterra is one of three Indiana casinos along the Ohio River that service the greater Cincinnati market, which includes Northern Kentucky.