They Got Game

Twins Dan and Dana Napier took a big gamble on careers in the gaming industry. They are now the highest-ranking African Americans at MGM Grand Inc.

and casino face a tough challenge, according to one gaming enthusiast, who says, "Detroit is not a place I would go for anything other than business." Dana is unbowed by such blunt assessments. Noting Mayor Dennis Archer’s push for a cultural renaissance in the city, as well the city’s easy accessibility and huge, untapped market, he says, "When I think of Detroit, I think of cars and Motown and its rich entertainment history. This is a natural extension of that. It’s going to be great!"

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"They are two of the best marketing people in the industry, bar none," says MGM Grand Inc. Chairman and CEO J. Terrence Lanni. "I told them both that they each should be seeking the opportunity to become chief operating officer of one of our properties. They both have the ability, and we love to promote from within."

If MGM Grand doesn’t find opportunities for the Napiers, someone else might. "I have never met them, but they’re known in the business as being very good," says Lawrence J. Fowler, chief human resources officer for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns Foxwood Resort & Casino in Connecticut. "When management sits down to talk about who’s worth going after, their names pop up anywhere where there’s gaming in this country."

Gaming in this country has a long but checkered history. The fact that gambling is still prohibited in several states bears testament both to how far the industry has come and how far it has yet to go. Despite its limitations, however, recent years have marked explosive growth in gaming.

MGM Grand is a perfect example. Its luxurious 5,000-room flagship operation opened on the Vegas Strip in late 1993. Since then, it has opened a casino in Darwin, Australia; three in South Africa (with three more planned); and, in September, it will open a $200 million entertainment and gaming complex in Detroit-a placeholder for the $750 million permanent facility slated to open there in four years. There are also active plans for expansion into Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The strategy of marketing gaming as yet another form of wholesome entertainment is working. Gaming’s image as a seedy playground for poor saps is all but extinct. "I’m not in the business of destroying people’s lives," says Dan Napier. "I’m in the business of enhancing them."

Despite its evolution, the industry has been lagging way behind in its minority hiring and promotions practices. Foxwood’s Fowler, who has worked in gaming since 1985, says that the greatest progress is evident in Atlantic City, where there are a few black gaming executives. However, he notes, "Atlantic City opened with very stringent affirmative action guidelines imposed by the state, so they had no other choice." And even there, he says, the progress can be seen mostly at the entry level.
MGM’s Lanni agrees that the industry has "been very slow" to include African Americans within its ranks. "Back when I started

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