General Manager of Palms to Step Down

A longtime casino industry veteran, Cynthia Kiser Murphey (known to her colleagues as “CKM”), has resigned as General Manager of Palms Casino Resort.

Staff was informed of the resignation on June 6, 2024, via an internal communication from Latisha Prieto, Chairperson of the San Manuel Gaming & Hospitality Authority Board (SMGHA). The San Manuel tribe owns Palms.

Kiser Murphey’s last day is June 30, 2024.

Unknown bar Palms
In the casino industry, one must always be on the lookout for sharks.

The whole SMGHA is a story unto itself. Here’s a quick overview. Basically, it was a way to avoid the San Manuel tribal council from facing scrutiny by gaming regulators.

Anyway, we broke the Kiser Murphey resignation story, as is our way. We haven’t seen an official announcement yet, but give it a minute for the local news to catch up.

Latisha Prieto wrote, “Over the past three years, it has been a privilege to work with CMK on our remarkable journey. GHA Board and CKM made history together and accomplished remarkable ‘firsts’ for the Tribe. We share a common bond through our combined challenges and achievements.”

You know, like “Band of Brothers,” but without all the saluting and Hershey’s bars.

The Prieto missive also mentions, “We respect CKM’s wishes to start a new chapter, traveling and spending quality time with her family.”

Cynthia Kiser Murphey has the distinction of having been GM at the first tribe-owned casino in Las Vegas. Mirage is owned by the Seminoles. Mohegan is on the way out at Virgin.

We’re told there’s no drama behind-the-scenes, which we absolutely hate.

We can still share some background, just to keep things interesting.

It’s rumored the VP of Casino Operations Gerald Williams is also out at Palms (via our friend @LasVegasLocally).

For what it’s worth, and possibly undrelated: In May, 2023, an announcement was made that didn’t make much of a splash in Las Vegas, but it should’ve. San Manuel named Peter Arceo Chief Gaming Officer for the tribe. Arceo’s reputation was one of hands-on involvement, a quality which doesn’t always vibe with old-school executives like Kiser Murphey. He essentially came into the tribe as her boss.

This news led us to poke around at Palms, and we heard leadership changes were in the works. You would’ve seen this Tweet earlier if you weren’t such a skimmer.

Chatter is Cynthia Kiser Murphey met expectations for the most part. She’s solid at many aspects of casino operations, and when we met her once, she was an absolute sweetheart.

Would we refer to a male casino general manager as a “sweetheart.” Absolutely, find another reason to cancel us.

Anyway, Palms isn’t like other casinos. The San Manuel tribe (possibly called the Yaamava tribe now) is like most tribes, there’s lots of glorious drama and personalities and politics and copious WTF. At any moment in a tribal casino, one can be replaced by someone’s uncle or cousin and you’re SOL. It’s amazing Kiser Murphey did the job for three years.

The tribe basically wanted to dip its toes into the Las Vegas market, while providing a destination for its San Manuel Resort & Casino in California. Or possibly Yaamava Resort & Casino.

Anyway, the revenue goals for Palms weren’t pie in the sky. The place was making maybe $20 million EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) when it was owned by Station Casinos. Then Kaos happened, Station bailed and the tribe had its opportunity.

Kiser Murphey has kept Palms scandal-free, and the EBITDA is probably closer to $30 million now.

There haven’t been any big ideas out of Palms, but if there were, we wouldn’t have heard about them because we blocked them on Twitter. Why? Because they insist upon not using title case like a professional business. In the words of Chandler Bing, “Could we BE more annoyed?”

Kiser Murphey’s tenure at Palms was never going to be long-term. The tribe needed an opener. She was on the cusp of retirement prior to taking the gig at Palms. Kiser Murphey previously spent two decades working for MGM Resorts.

She says this isn’t a retirement, she’s just taking a break. Being the GM of a casino is all-consuming.

Palms remains a great off-Strip casino. From what we’re told, Cynthia Kiser Murphey genuinely wants to spend more time with her family, which is weird. Who even does that?