Encore Boston Harbor President Bob DeSalvio, long the face and authority on the casino project for the Charlestown community, has stepped down and will be replaced by Operations Director Brian Gullbrants – who has been working in Boston for the last two years.
In a move that had been rumored for more than a year – but had seemingly died down after the opening – Wynn Resorts announced a major change up in the executive team on Wednesday morning. That included DeSalvio being replaced, and two other new editions.
Long-time attorney and community liaison Jacqui Krum will remain with Encore.
“Bob DeSalvio’s ability to partner with community leaders and elected officials, assemble a world-class team and lead them to produce and launch a project of the highest quality is remarkable,” said Matt Maddox, CEO of Wynn Resorts. “His unique talent to both manage a complicated construction process while listening to the needs of key stakeholders was essential to our success. Bob leaves Encore with a hand-selected team prepared to take on the challenges ahead. I salute him for his commitment to the project and, most importantly, his dedication to his team.”
DeSalvio was the first face from Wynn to bring the casino discussion to Charlestown. They weren’t always happy times, and the meetings began with great controversy – particularly around traffic, potential hazards during the site cleanup and other perceived quality of life issues. Ironically, none of those issues from the early days came to bear. DeSalvio and State Rep. Dan Ryan began conversations with the community in a series of meetings in early 2015 under the Engaged Charlestown Residents umbrella.
It was there that many of the traffic improvements unveiled last summer at Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue were announced. He continued to be a face of the project around Charlestown and fielded numerous concerns from residents.
Wynn Resorts said on Wednesday that he had presided over one of “the most successful casino resort openings on the East Coast.” He received high marks from local officials, law enforcement and the Gaming Commission for his personal involvement in planning for traffic and contingencies in the casino’s opening period from May to September.
State Rep. Ryan said DeSalvio was always known to be a straight shooter, even when the news wasn’t great for Charlestown.
“I was sorry to hear the news,” said Ryan. “From my dealings with Bob DeSalvio he is a consummate professional; a straight shooter, who embraced the communities around which Encore is located. A person with Bob’s skills and acumen will find a place to land. I wish he and his family well. I consider him a friend.”
Gullbrants most recently led all hotel and food and beverage operations at Encore, working alongside Bob DeSalvio since the pre-opening phase of the resort. His elevation to DeSalvio’s job had been rumored as far back as June 2018, but never seemed to come to bear.
He was eyed during the investigation by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission last April into the Wynn Resorts issues and its suitability discussions.
Overseeing the spa services in Las Vegas, he was at the center of a 2016 complaint regarding ‘sensual massage’ requests from Steve Wynn and his new wife. In the MGC investigation, Gullbrants was interviewed about two incidents.
The first involved Steve Wynn asking for a towel to cover him during spa sessions rather than a sheet, which is the protocol.
The second complaint was what has now become the infamous ‘sensual massage’ request by Steve Wynn and his current wife in 2016. In April, he testified before the MGC on both incidents, and due to his involvement in the investigation, was only given a temporary license to operate in Massachusetts, the MGC said in April.
Since that time, in May 2019, he received his key gaming employee license from the MGC, according to Elaine Driscoll of the MGC. That license is also good for the position of president, so he will face no further reviews.
Gullbrants has experience as a leader at some of the top ranked hotels globally. He led the opening of the hotel at Encore Las Vegas in 2008; his role expanded to oversight of both Wynn Las Vegas and Encore hotels in 2011 as Executive Vice President and General Manager. Previous to his work with Wynn Resorts, Mr. Gullbrants spent 20 years with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.
•In addition to DeSalvio and Gullbrants, Wynn Resorts also announced two other new executives, including Jenny Holaday as Executive Vice President of Operations, and Eric Kraus as Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs.
Both will have to engage in a review of their suitability with the MGC before they can start.
Holaday will join Encore Boston Harbor as Executive Vice President of Operations, primarily responsible for all gaming and casino marketing functions. She served as the senior marketing officer for all Caesars Entertainment casinos in Atlantic City, having previously held corporate leadership positions in strategic marketing and promotions at Caesars Entertainment. She served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing and later SVP of Operations at MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit.
Kraus will be making a homecoming of sorts, as he has lived in Walpole and has extensive experience with communications in Boston.
Kraus will oversee government and community relations, public relations and philanthropy for Encore Boston Harbor. Based in Boston, he led global corporate communications and public affairs for The Gillette Company, and was active in the merger of P&G and Gillette. Mr. Kraus also led global communications and public affairs for Covidien, formerly Tyco Healthcare, as well as Bacardi, Limited. He was Executive Vice President of Clean Harbors, Inc., in Norwell, and is the past Chairman and a former selectman for the Town of Walpole.