SPARKS — Veteran casino executive and Elko resident David Zornes will take the helm as CEO of Northern Star Casinos effective Dec. 18.
In his role, Zornes is charged with chartering the course of operations at five properties: Stockmen’s Casino & Ramada Hotel and Commercial Casino, both in Elko; Scoreboard Casino in Spring Creek; Model T Casino Hotel and RV in Winnemucca; and El Capitan Lodge and Casino in Hawthorne.
“We are delighted to welcome David Zornes as our new chief executive officer to guide our company to even greater success,” said Larry Hill, CEO of Triple Crown Casinos, parent company of Northern Star Casinos. “David brings in-depth knowledge and an exceptional track record of strong leadership in the gaming industry and specifically in the Elko market. He is uniquely qualified to take our properties to the next level of hospitality excellence.”
Zornes has held several key positions while operating hotel and casino properties over the past 37 years in Nevada, the Caribbean and Colorado, starting with the Red Lion Hotel chain in 1980.
“I’m really excited about this, for one because it does keep me in Elko, and I feel that Elko is my home,” Zornes said. “I’ve always enjoyed small towns, prefer small towns.”
The 19-year Elko resident completed 11 years as CEO of the Red Lion Hotel & Casino, Holiday Inn Express, Thunderbird Motel, Gold Country Inn & Casino and High Desert Inn in Elko in September. Over about the past 35 years, Zornes thrice worked for Red Lion in Elko.
While general manager of the Red Lion Inn in Elko in 1983, he launched an air junket program that brought guests to the region throughout the early 1980s. He later started Casino Express, an airline program that serviced 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada during what he called “the good ol’ days.”
Bringing the Northern Nevada properties back to their “old glory,” as Zornes called it, is among his goals. He said he plans to get involved with downtown development.
“There properties are so important to the downtown area,” he said, adding that although he will have to treat all five Northern Nevada locations equally, he wants to give some extra attention to Elko.
“I definitely consider Elko my hometown,” he said.
Zornes also serves on the board of the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority, and plans to continue his service in that role, and is past chairman of the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority.
“I can give them more of a Nevada perspective,” Zornes said of working for the properties’ Colorado-based parent company.
Based in Sparks, Northern Star Casinos offers gaming, dining and hospitality experiences. Two of the properties feature hotel accommodations under the Wyndham Worldwide Corp. brand: Ramada Hotel at Stockmen’s and Travelodge at El Capitan. The Model T features a Quality Inn under the Choice Hotels brand.
The firm’s parent company is Triple Crown Casinos, a gaming operator in Cripple Creek, Colorado, with properties including the Midnight Rose Hotel & Casino, McGills Hotel Casino and The Brass Ass Casino.