MGM Resorts Shuffles Regional Leadership, Melonie Johnson Back to National Harbor

Posted on: January 6, 2022, 10:43h. 

Last updated on: January 6, 2022, 11:12h.

MGM Resorts is overhauling its leadership of four of the company’s casino properties outside of Las Vegas.

MGM Resorts Melonie Johnson Borgata National Harbor
MGM Resorts executive Melonie Johnson is returning to MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. Her return results in a series of leadership changes at MGM’s regional casino properties. (Image: MGM Resorts/

The casino operator this week announced that Melonie Johnson will return to MGM National Harbor outside DC in Maryland after a roughly year and a half leading Borgata in Atlantic City. Travis Lunn, a longtime MGM executive, will replace Johnson in New Jersey.

Johnson in May of 2020 made history when she became the first Black woman to head an Atlantic City casino. Johnson had served as president and chief operating officer of MGM National Harbor from the $1.4 billion integrated resort’s November 2017 opening until departing for Borgata. Now, she returns to Maryland.

I am thrilled to be back in Maryland where I look forward to re-engaging with our employees and reconnecting with the Prince George’s County community,” Johnson said in a statement. “I was able to witness many of our resort’s successes during my previous three and a half years there, and I’m looking forward to working with the team towards many more in the years to come.”

MGM’s domestic regional operations today generate more annual gross gaming revenue (GGR) than the company’s Strip casinos. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, MGM’s non-Vegas casinos reported GGR of $3.5 billion. MGM casinos on the Strip won $2.04 billion.

Lunn Run

Travis Lunn arrives at Borgata after a successful stint as MGM’s president and COO in Mississippi. There, he oversaw the operations of Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi and Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica.

MGM Resorts said both casinos that Lunn oversaw experienced record gaming revenue last year despite the myriad of challenges presented by COVID-19. Lunn now heads to Atlantic City, where he’ll lead MGM’s most important property not located on the Las Vegas Strip.

“It’s an honor,” Lunn said of his appointment. “Borgata is a world-class resort destination with a brand recognized nationwide for its spectacular accommodations, culinary program, and entertainment offerings.

I can’t wait to jump in and connect with all of the employees, guests, and local community,” Lunn added.

Brandon Dardeau will take Lunn’s former role in Mississippi. A longtime MGM executive, Dardeau most recently served as general manager and senior VP of marketing and operations for Gold Strike.

An MGM Resorts corporate spokesperson told that the leadership changes “strengthen our operations and position us for further growth in the regions.”

AC Female Leadership Wanes

Johnson’s departure means that only one of the nine casinos in Atlantic City are today led by a female. A little more than a year ago, four casinos in town had females atop of their leadership hierarchy.

Karie Hall last May left Bally’s Atlantic City to become senior VP and general manager of Caesars Entertainment’s Harrah’s and Harvey’s Lake Tahoe casinos. Terry Glebocki shocked the Atlantic City gaming industry in October when she announced her resignation as CEO of Ocean Casino Resort. Glebocki at the time was also the president of the Casino Association of New Jersey.

With Johnson moving back to the DC metro, Jacqueline Grace remains the sole female leading an Atlantic City casino. Grace was appointed general manager and senior VP of Tropicana Atlantic City in September of 2020.