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HRI enters casino venture in California: Partners with Enterprise Rancheria tribe

HOLLYWOOD — The Seminole owned Hard Rock International (HRI) has entered into a hotel and casino partnership with Northern California tribe Enterprise Rancheria.

HRI will manage the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain, scheduled to open this year.

The partnership constitutes a management and brand license agreement, according to Suzi Hansen of the Zimmerman Agency. Enterprise Rancheria owns the property and licenses the brand from Hard Rock.

While other tribes are licensees and operate Hard Rock casinos, this is the first such deal with another tribe that involves management of a casino by HRI, Hansen explained.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento
President Mark Birtha. (Courtesy Hard Rock)

Officials are calling it a “historic partnership between two Native American tribes.”

The resort is expected to feature an eight-story hotel with more than 150 rooms. The 320,000-square-foot property will also feature a casino, pool, restaurants, bar, gift shop and conference facilities. It will be built on 40 acres in a rural area of Yuba County within the Tribe’s lands.

The project is expected to employ about 1,300 in both specialized and general positions.

As part of the partnership, Mark Birtha was named president of the property.

Birtha is responsible for the operations of the hotel and casino, and will serve as the main point of contact between the Seminole Tribe, HRI and Enterprise Rancheria.

“As an industry leader, Mark is the perfect candidate to bridge the exciting collaboration between the two tribes,” Glenda Nelson, tribal chairperson of Enterprise Rancheria said in a statement. “We are pleased to unite with one of the most exciting and authentic gaming, hospitality and entertainment leaders in the world and can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Birtha has more than 25 years of experience in the gaming and hospitality field, most recently as the president of Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park near Cleveland, Ohio.

Prior starting his career with Hard Rock, Birtha was vice president and general manager at Station Casinos in the greater Las Vegas, Nevada, area – a business that operates nine hotel-casino properties.

“Mark’s experience and passion for the brand make him the ideal leader for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain,” Jon Lucas, COO of HRI said in a statement. “While working with Mark over the past few years, I have witnessed firsthand the talent and devotion that makes him an industry leader and I am confident he will continue that track record of success in this new endeavor.”

Birtha has also worked for Mirage Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Station Casinos, Marriott International and Starwood.

He has managed operations in Native American gaming enterprises as well. He was president of Sol Casinos and the AVA Amphitheater near Tucson for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Birtha oversaw the design, construction and operations of Casino Del Sol’s $130 million hotel resort expansion development there.

Birtha earned a degree from the Hotel School at Cornell University and has a long list of career honors.

He’s been recognized as a G2E Industry Executive Ambassador (2015); one of the Faces of Cleveland (2016); a 2017 Human Rights Campaign Ohio honoree/speaker; the honorary chair of the 2017 Urban League of Cleveland’s 100th Anniversary Gala; a 2017 Susan G. Komen NE Ohio Pink Tie Guy award recipient; the 2018 Employer Support of Guard and Reserve of Ohio honoree and keynote speaker; and is a 2018 Urban League of Akron President’s Award for Community Leadership recipient.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a staff reporter for The Seminole Tribune. Prior to moving to Florida, he was a reporter and editor for print and digital publications in his home state of New Mexico. When Damon’s not working on a story, you’ll probably find him at a hot yoga class or splashing around on some South Florida beach. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.

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