KEYNOTE LUNCHEON – Speaker: Governor Murphy
In addition, join us for the presentation of Lifetime Achievement Award to Virginia McDowell
Named Gaming Executive of the Year for 2009 by Casino Journal Magazine, Virginia McDowell has always performed at the top of her game. Among the top publicly traded gaming corporations, she served as the only female president and chief executive officer of a major gaming operating company from 2007 until her retirement from Isle of Capri Casinos in April 2016. She now serves as a Non-Executive Director of Entain plc (LSE:ENT), where she chairs the Environmental, Social and Governance Committee and serves as the Designated Workforce Director. Her achievements include combining forty years of casino experience with strong business skills and a demonstrated ability to communicate at every level, and she has served as a frequent featured or keynote speaker, moderator or panelist at universities, civic organizations and charitable organizations and major industry conferences.
For more than four decades, Virginia has analyzed corporate strategy, and studied competitive markets resulting in a unique perspective among gaming operators. She joined Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., serving first as president and chief operating officer and then president and chief executive officer. Her proven leadership experience in both regional and destination markets are coupled with success in the areas of operations, information technology, business development, and marketing, including sales, corporate communications and branding. She spent sixteen years working in the Atlantic City market before joining Argosy Gaming Company in Alton, Ill. as a member of the turnaround management team. From 2005 through 2007, Virginia returned to Atlantic City to serve as executive vice president and chief information officer for Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc.
A 1980 graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Virginia served as the first female board member of the American Gaming Association. She is a former member of Temple’s Presidents Advisory Board. In addition to Entain, she serves as a vice president of Global Gaming Women, a non-profit she co-founded in 2016 with a mission to support, inspire and influence the development of women in the gaming industry through education and mentoring. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Saint Louis University where she chairs the Marketing Committee; a trustee at HavenHouse St. Louis and an advisory board member of the St. Louis Crisis Nursery.
Community service has long been a part of Virginia’s life and her leadership extends outside the office. She delivered a TEDx talk on philanthropy in the workforce entitled “The Power of People”; served as the founding board chair and president of Gilda’s Club St. Louis, and previously served as president of AMC Cancer Research and a board member at Churchill Center & School.
Her hard work has been recognized with several prestigious awards. In 2022, she was the first woman inducted into the Mississippi Gaming Hall of Fame. In 2016 and 2015, CEO Connection named her one of the 25 Most Influential Women of the Mid-Market. In January of 2014, she was named by Small Business Monthly magazine as one of the Most Admired CEO’s and in 2013, she was honored with the Hellenic Spirit Foundation’s “Athena Award.” In 2011 and 2012 the St. Louis Business Journal named her one of the Most Influential St. Louisans. In 2010, she was named by the YWCA as a Leader of Distinction; honored with the Community Service Award by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and presented with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the Casino Marketing industry conference. She was honored as one of the 2008 Winning Women Regional Economic Development Award winners, and in 2007 named one of Casino Enterprise Management magazine’s “Great Women of Gaming.”