01/13/2011 2:51PM

Pinnacle Entertainment names new general manager for River Downs


The Las Vegas-based casino company that has reached an agreement to buy River Downs in Cincinnati has named Kevin Kaufman the general manager of the racetrack, according to a letter from the president of the company, Pinnacle Entertainment, to its employees.

The current general manager of River Downs is Jack Hanessian, who did not immediately return phone calls on Thursday.

Kaufman has been the general manager of Pinnacle’s Belterra casino in Indiana for the past four years, according to the letter from Anthony Sanfilippo. Late last year, Pinnacle reached an agreement to purchase River Downs for $45 million from its private ownership group, an acquisition that is expected to close later this month after the company receives approvals from Ohio regulators.

Pinnacle is hoping to receive approval to install slot machines at River, along with other owners of Ohio’s struggling Thoroughbred and harness racetracks. Former Gov. Todd Strickland, a Democrat who was defeated in a re-election campaign late last year by Republican candidate Jon Kasich, had directed the lottery to allow slot machines at Ohio racetracks before leaving office, but it is unclear if the current administration will follow through on the directive.

Sanfilippo said in his letter that Kaufman 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.”