Hard Rock International, Seminole Gaming Name New President of Entertainment

Newly appointed as President of Entertainment, Keith Sheldon will oversee and direct entertainment for both Seminole Gaming, which manages seven Florida gaming locations, and the global brand Hard Rock International, also owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Sheldon is transitioning from Executive Vice President of Programming and Development at BSE Global, where he led the development of content opportunities and special events at Barclays Center. He also played an integral role in the planning, development and programming of both Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Webster Hall.

“Keith Sheldon has a proven track record of success and an impressive list of accomplishments from his previous endeavors that will set him apart in this role at Seminole Hard Rock Support Services,” said Jim Allen, Chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming. “We are excited to welcome him to our team and are certain he will continue to leverage his expertise in the entertainment industry to provide unbeatable experiences that our fans will enjoy for years to come.”

The Seminole Tribe of Florida was the first Tribe in North America to open a high-stakes bingo hall and casino, which debuted in 1979 and became the forerunner of the Indian gaming movement.

The Tribe’s 2007 purchase of Hard Rock International marked a milestone in Indian gaming, as the first time a Tribe acquired a major, international company. Allen led that acquisition, and the Hard Rock empire has grown dramatically on Allen’s watch — now touting venues in 76 countries spanning 256 locations. 

While COVID-19 has been brutal for the gaming and entertainment industry, Hard Rock International is powering through. In May, the enterprise acquired all rights to the Hard Rock brand and related trademarks in Las Vegas from Houston-based private equity firm, Juniper Capital. Now nothing stands in the way of the Seminole Tribe of Florida developing, owning, licensing, managing or operating a Hard Rock-branded casino and resort in Las Vegas, or anywhere within Clark County, Nevada. 

The Tribe’s ownership of HRI previously excluded the opportunity to own and operate a property in Las Vegas, because one of the original owners, Peter Morton, insisted on retaining naming rights west of the Mississippi when he and his business partner first sold the Hard Rock brand to the Rank Group. That stipulation stuck when Seminole purchased HRI from Rank in 2007. 

Among other recent milestones, though pre-COVID-19, on October 24th, Hard Rock opened a structure with the sort of eye-catching, brand-cementing architecture you’d see in Vegas or Dubai: The new Seminole Hard Rock Casino & Hotel, a 35-floor guitar-shaped hotel boasting 468 suites that rises above Hollywood.

The star-studded opening of the guitar-shaped venue was a momentous occasion, but months later, the coronavirus pandemic hit Florida and the rest of the country. “Our business is actually in 76 countries around the world, so we’ve been dealing with this situation since January,” Allen previously said. All seven Seminole-owned casinos in the Sunshine State shuttered March 20th through mid-June to prevent the spread of the virus. The guitar-shaped attraction, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood Florida, reopened on June 12th. 

All Hard Rock properties that have started welcoming patrons again — though at 50 percent or less of venue capacity — are adhering to the business’ “Safe + Sound” Program. Guidelines entail use of plexiglass and thermal imaging for temperature checks, plus mandatory masks or cloth face coverings. More than 600 Guitar Hotel guestrooms are available to guests, and several restaurant venues at all three casino complexes are servicing guests with social distancing measures in place. 

“Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming have made a tremendous commitment to sanitary protocols and a safety-first mentality for both guests and team members,” Allen said. “We are making sure our resorts are Safe + Sound so our guests and team members have peace of mind when they return.”

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