Gateway Casinos & Entertainment has announced the unexpected passing of CEO Tony Santo. The Canadian gaming operator confirmed the tragic news in a recent statement.
Santo joined Gateway in 2013 as its president and CEO. He was appointed to the company’s board in July 2017. No details were provided regarding his death. In the statement, Gateway called his passing “untimely.” He was 61.
Gateway Casinos mourns the loss of Tony Santo
The news of Santo’s passing sent shockwaves throughout the gaming community. Tolek Strukoff, president of Gateway, expressed deep sorrow, saying the announcement of the CEO’s death brought great sadness.
“You could often find Tony visiting sites and staff from dawn to dusk connecting about their work, families, and lives,” said Strukoff. “Tony was an iconic leader in the US and Canada and grew Gateway from a small regional gaming company to one of the largest gaming companies in Canada. However, Tony would say himself he didn’t do it – we did it together.”
A University of Nevada, Las Vegas graduate, Santo’s expertise spanned the hospitality and gaming sectors. His leadership roles in Las Vegas earned him a reputation as an industry luminary. He eventually moved to Canada, propelling Gateway to its present stature. Strukoff also called Santo a valuable asset to the company’s staff.
“Tony was an outstanding leader, colleague and friend, and he will be greatly missed,” said Strukoff.
Santo was preparing for retirement
Santo held several executive positions in Las Vegas and oversaw several properties on the Vegas Strip. He had a hand in managing properties, including Bally’s Grand, Las Vegas Hilton and Paris. Santo also headed Caesars Entertainment’s mid-south regional properties before becoming senior vice president of the entire company.
He then decided to tackle Canada casinos, where he led Gateway into becoming one of the largest gaming operators in the country. Gateway operates 31 properties in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.
Santo announced his retirement plans in December 2019. But the COVID-19 pandemic postponed his departure. He chose to stay on the job to help navigate the company through unprecedented challenges. Gateway Casinos employs 7,000 people and operates nearly 14,000 slot machines and 350 table games across its portfolio.
“On behalf of all of Gateway’s employees, I extend our deepest sympathies to the entire Santo family,” Strukoff said.