ary casino leader Jahnae Erpenbach has been promoted to chairwoman and chief executive officer of parent company Spectacle Entertainment and Spectacle Gary.
According to the company, Erpenbach is not only the first woman in Indiana gaming to serve in that position but also the first female to be named chair of a casino company’s board of directors in the U.S, although Sara Gonso Tait, executive director of Indiana Gaming Commission, said she couldn’t confirm that second claim.
Erpenbach succeeds Rod Ratclif, who a company spokeswoman said retired from his CEO position in June after helping to establish Indiana’s gaming industry.
The spokeswoman said Ratcliff is still a significant investor in Spectacle Entertainment and oversees investor relations and financial development for the company.
Erpenbach, 54, said she’s excited about her new chapter for Spectacle Entertainment, which is in the midst of construction on the new Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana, to be located at the Interstate 80/94 and Burr Street interchange.
“Good things are on the horizon for the company and the community. This is a first for Indiana and I’m honored and humbled to be a part of it,” she said.
Erpenbach will continue overseeing the day-to-day operations at Majestic Star Casinos until operations begin at the new Hard Rock Casino in early 2021, according to the spokeswoman. As part of her new roles, Erpenbach will represent Spectacle Entertainment in its partnership with Hard Rock and will play an intricate role in building and leading the senior executive teams.
Tait said Erpenbach has been a licensee in Indiana for many years and is well known to the commission, the Chicago Tribune reports.
"We wish her the best in her new role," Tait said.
Erpenbach has more than 28 years experience in the casino industry, the majority of which have been spent in senior management, according to Indiana-based Spectacle Entertainment. In addition to overseeing operations at Majestic Star Casinos, Erpenbach has also assisted with the development of the Hard Rock Casino, which will feature more than 200,000-square-feet of entertainment space.
Plans also include a Hard Rock Cafe, four additional food venues, a retail store, Hard Rock Live entertainment showroom and a Hard Rock Sportsbook. The second phase will include a 200- to 300-room hotel and parking garage.
Erpenbach began her gaming career in 1992, initially hired as the group sales manager for Players Island Casino in Metropolis, Illinois. She quickly advanced to director of marketing at that casino. Erpenbach led the marketing team at Majestic Star in 2002, when it was owned by Don Barden, returning to the Gary casinos as general manager under Spectacle Entertainment in 2019.
She also served in leadership roles at Harrah’s Entertainment in Metropolis, Argosy’s Empress Casino in Joliet, Illinois, and Centaur Gaming’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville.