Metro-East News

Belleville man named president of Casino Queen after Jeff Watson steps down for judgeship

The Casino Queen Board of Directors has named a new president about a week after the casino’s former president announced he was retiring to become a judge in the Illinois 20th Judicial Circuit.

The casino’s current general manager, Terry Hanger, took over Monday as president of Casino Queen holding Company and its affiliate properties, Casino Queen, Inc. in East St. Louis and Casino Queen Marquette in Iowa. Hanger has worked for the casino for 18 years and lives in Belleville, according to Julie Hauser of The Hauser Group.

Hanger takes over from Jeff Watson, who resigned to serve as as associate judge on Illinois 20th judicial Circuit.

“In his new position, Hanger will oversee all departments and more than 600 staff members at the 100 percent employee-owned casino, which is located on the East St. Louis riverfront, directly across from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis,” Hauser said.

Before he became an employee at the Casino Queen, Hanger held information technology and leadership positions with Walgreens Company in Chicago and with Emerson and BJC Healthcare in St. Louis.

Hanger received a master’s degree in information management in 1991 from Washington University and a bachelor’s in marketing from Millikan University in Decatur in 1980.

The Casino Queen Board of Directors issued a joint statement on Hanger’s promotion and Watson’s resignation:

“Jeff (Watson) has been an excellent asset to this company and we are thankful for the strong leadership and influential changes he has brought to the Casino Queen during the time he has been with our organization. We are equally thankful to be positioned for a smooth leadership transition as Terry (Hanger) steps into the leadership role.”

We couldn’t have chosen a better successor than Terry (Hanger) given his in-depth knowledge of our organization and the gaming industry and his understanding of the significant impact our operation has on the city of East St. Louis and the importance of continuing our role as a great corporate citizen.”

Hanger will be responsible for the casino’s daily operations as well as overseeing governmental, regulatory and organized labor relations, Hauser said.

Hanger was hired at the Casino Queen as director of information technology in 2000. He was promoted to assistant general manager in 2009 and named general manager in 2017. He and Watson have worked very closely together, Hauser said.

“He was part of the team that led shareholders of Casino Queen, Inc. through the sale of their interest in the company to a newly formed Employee Stock Ownership Plan for approximately $170 million,” Hauser said.

Hauser said that plan is a qualified retirement plan under federal law that allows employees to become official owners of their company. That transition enabled Casino Queen to become the first employee-owned and locally owned casino in the country.

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Carolyn P. Smith has worked for the Belleville News-Democrat for 18 years and currently covers breaking news in the Metro-East. She graduated from the Journalism School at the University of Missouri at Columbia and says news is in her DNA.
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