Pamunkey Tribe Hires Virginia Native for Key Gaming Executive Role

Posted on: March 18, 2021, 11:00h. 

Last updated on: March 19, 2021, 08:39h.

One day after announcing his resignation as the Potawatomi Casino CEO and general manager, Rodney Ferguson officially landed his next role. It’s one that will take him back home.

Rodney Ferguson
Next month, Rodney Ferguson will become the executive vice president of gaming and resort operations for the Pamunkey Indian Tribal Gaming Authority. The Virginia native resigned Wednesday as the CEO and general manager of the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee. (Image:

The long-time gaming executive will become the executive vice president of gaming and resort operations for the planned Norfolk Resort and Casino in Virginia. That’s according to a release sent Thursday from the Pamunkey Indian Tribal Gaming Authority.

Besides holding a senior leadership position for the casino, he’ll also hold a similar position for the authority in general. He officially starts in the new position on April 12. The authority said Ferguson brings a deep and multi-faceted knowledge of the gaming industry to the organization.

The position with the Pamunkey authority also will bring him back home to his native Virginia.

When we started our national search, we had no idea that the road for this important position would lead us right back to Hampton Roads,” said Robert Gray, Pamunkey Indian Tribe chief said in a statement. “He understands the business and he understands the community. We couldn’t have found a better combination of talent and integrity.”

Ferguson has more than 30 years of experience in the gaming industry, starting in Atlantic City back in the 1980s.

Pamunkey officials are expecting to break ground in the spring, with plans for it to open in late 2022. The $500 million resort will include a 300-room hotel. It will feature such amenities as an entertainment center, a spa, a pool, and several restaurants. It’s expected to employ about 2,500. In addition, developers have set a goal of hiring 90 percent of the workers from the Norfolk area. They also will seek to hire half of the workforce from minority populations.

Ferguson to Leave Potawatomi Next Month

On Wednesday, Ferguson announced his departure from the Potawatomi casino. His last day at the Milwaukee venue is April 7.

In a release, the Forest County Potawatomi credited Ferguson for helping to expand the casino’s hotel. He also orchestrated such community outreach efforts as sponsoring the Milwaukee streetcar initiative, and kept the casino business operational during the pandemic.

“With the help of many great team members, we’ve accomplished much over the last several years. I will certainly miss the many wonderful people I had the pleasure of working with at Potawatomi and throughout the community,” Ferguson said in a statement.

Prior to taking on the CEO position in 2017, Ferguson served as its COO from 2016 to 2017. He also was the CFO from 2013 to 2015.

The Potawatomi plan a search for its next chief executive/general manager.

Richmond Next for Pamunkey Tribe?

While the Pamunkey tribe is working on its first casino in Norfolk, they have their eyes set on getting a second one in the commonwealth as well.

The tribe is one of several entities vying for a potential license in Richmond. Voters in Virginia’s capital will decide in November whether to allow casino gaming.

One of Pamunkey’s key selling points is its people have a history dating back thousands of years in the area.

It’s proposing a $350 million resort with a high-end 300-room hotel, a rooftop pool, luxury spa, and both high-end and casual dining spots. The tribe expects the casino to create more than 1,900 jobs and deliver a $650 million economic impact to the community.

Competition is stiff for the license. Others vying for it include Bally’s, Urban One in conjunction with Colonial Downs, Golden Nugget, and The Cordish Companies. Cordish officials have already filed a lawsuit against Norfolk, claiming city leaders violated an agreement that gave it exclusive rights to develop a casino