WASHINGTON–A union organizer, pioneering industry executive, an entertainment innovator and an award-winning chef will be inducted this year into the Gaming Hall of Fame.
John Wilhelm, hospitality industry president for UNITE HERE!; Clifford Perlman, former CEO of Caesars Palace; legendary magician and entertainer David Copperfield; and Michael Mina, owner of Mina Group and managing chef of MICHAEL MINA Bellagio, STRIPSTEAK, SEABLUE and NOBHILL, all in Las Vegas, will be honored for their achievements on Thursday, September 20 at the 19th annual Gaming Hall of Fame Charity Dinner and Induction Ceremony. Caesars Las Vegas Hotel and Casino will host the event, which benefits the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG).
“This year’s Gaming Hall of Fame inductees represent a diverse group of innovators who have helped to make Las Vegas and the gaming industry what it is today. Everyday, employees, casino operations, entertainment and fine dining come together to create a special experience for casino customers, and these men have all been integral to helping create that experience. We are proud to welcome them into the Gaming Hall of Fame,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA).
Throughout his career as a union leader and organizer, John Wilhelm has established himself as an innovative leader by utilizing creative organizing and corporate strategies, demonstrating a strong commitment to rank-and-file member participation, reaching out to workers across ethnic and language barriers, and building positive, mutually beneficial relationships with employers. As president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE), Wilhelm has negotiated many collective bargaining agreements on behalf of its members and has built a reputation for tenacity when conflicts have arisen with employers. In 2004, Wilhelm joined with UNITE President Bruce Raynor to lead to establish UNITE HERE!, creating a union of 450,000 members and joining two of the most dynamic and progressive unions in the North American labor movement.
Wilhelm began representing his union, known in Nevada as the Culinary Union, when he came to Las Vegas 20 years ago. The partnership he helped establish with most of the major gaming companies has been a critically important part of the success of Las Vegas, and is increasingly important in Atlantic City and other markets. His consistent message has been that good working and living conditions for gaming employees and a focus on training and excellent customer service, are key to the gaming industry’s growth and its profitability. As a Congressionally-appointed member of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, he and his union’s members succeeded in presenting the positive value of the industry. His advocacy of a legislative alliance between gaming and labor, and of strong cooperative work on training, health care, and other issues, has helped make the gaming industry an example for the rest of the business community.
As the CEO of Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino through its original holding company, Caesars World, Clifford Perlman established his reputation as a gaming innovator. During his 13-year tenure at the helm of Caesars World, Perlman led the expansion of Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino from a hotel with 550 rooms and pre-tax revenues of $5.8 million to one with 1,750 rooms and more than $75 million in pre-tax revenue. Additionally, Perlman guided Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino as it became a major player in the international gaming market. Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino was the first Las Vegas casino to implement an organized overseas marketing strategy with offices in Mexico City, Mexico; Caracas, Venezuela; and Hong Kong; and marketing efforts in Australia and Japan.
Under Perlman’s leadership, Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino also became a prime destination for entertainment and sporting events. Las Vegas legend and 1997 Gaming Hall of Fame inductee Frank Sinatra played Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino for 13 years, the longest continuous engagement of his career. In association with fight promoter Don King, Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino hosted major boxing events at the casino from 1975 to 1982. Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino also acquired a Formula One Racing event hosted by Paul Newman that was held in Las Vegas for five years and initiated the Alan King Tennis Classic during Perlman’s tenure.
Hailed by audiences and critics alike as the greatest magician in the world, David Copperfield has elevated the ancient art of magic to new heights and redefined it along the way. He has vanished the Statue of Liberty, walked through the Great Wall of China, flown through the air and made audience members disappear and reappear in places they would never expect.
Copperfield’s engaging and entertaining approach to his venerable art has transformed the way the world looks at magic. After being chosen to host and star in “The Magic of ABC,” his successful performance led CBS to sign him for a series of specials, beginning with “The Magic of David Copperfield.” His celebrated feats and sense of theater have won “The Magic of David Copperfield” dozens of Emmy Awards. His tours have set box-office records across Europe, Asia and North and South America, and he is the only living illusionist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Copperfield has been a staple of Las Vegas entertainment for over a decade and currently performs nightly 20 weeks out of the year at the Hollywood Theater at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino.
An integral part of making Las Vegas’ now esteemed dining scene, chef Michael Mina, under the auspices of Mina Group, has opened two Las Vegas concept restaurants: SEABLUE at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino and STRIPSTEAK at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Mina also is the managing chef of MICHAEL MINA at Bellagio Hotel and Casino (formerly Aqua Bellagio) and NOBHILL at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. Mina owns or manages four restaurants in Las Vegas and a total of eight nationwide.
In 2005, Mina was named Bon Appetit Chef of the Year, San Francisco Magazine Chef of the Year and Restaurateur of the Year by the International Food and Beverage Forum. Mina has been featured in such national media as Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Food Arts, Cigar Aficionado, Newsweek, TIME, Robb Report, Travel & Leisure, Wine Spectator, and others. His television credits include the Food Network’s “After Midnight,” Fine Living Network’s “Opening Soon,” Pat O’Brien’s “The Insider,” the CBS Early Show, the NBC Today Show and Fox’s syndicated “Good Day Live.”
Induction into the Gaming Hall of Fame is the highest honor accorded by the gaming-entertainment industry. Each year, two or more individuals who have distinguished themselves through significant contributions to the industry receive this honor. More than 50 people have been inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame since its inception 1989.
For information about sponsorship opportunities for the dinner, contact Keli Wallace at 202-552-2685. Ticket information is available on the NCRG Web site (www.ncrg.org).
The American Gaming Association (AGA) is the national trade association for the commercial casino industry. In addition to representing the interests of its members on federal legislative and regulatory issues, the AGA serves as a clearinghouse for information, develops educational and advocacy programs, and provides leadership on industry-related issues of public concern.
The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) is the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) affiliated charity. Founded in 1996 as a separate 501(c)3 charitable organization, the NCRG’s mission is to support peer-reviewed, scientific research into pathological gambling and provide scientifically-based responsible gaming education and outreach programs to casino communities nationwide. NCRG funds provide money to researchers from around the globe to increase understanding of pathological gambling and its impact, and to find effective methods of treatment for the disorder. Grant-making responsibilities are handled by the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders, a program of the Division on Addictions at Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information, visit www.ncrg.org.
The Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders is a program of the Division on Addictions at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. In accordance with the Harvard University name policy, the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders should not be referred to as the “Harvard Institute…” or the “Harvard Medical School Institute…” For more information about the use of the Harvard name, visit http://www.techtransfer.harvard.edu/UseOfName.html. `