The man widely credited with developing the casino industry's preeminent gambler loyalty program is exiting Caesars Entertainment after nearly 13 years with the casino giant.
In a memo distributed to Caesars employees today, CEO Gary Loveman announced the departure of David Norton, the company’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, effective Friday.
In the memo, Loveman praised Norton for his analytical expertise and leading role in developing Total Rewards, a tiered program that rewards players based on how much they have gambled in the past and are expected to gamble in the future.
Under the program, gamblers rack up rewards credits that can be redeemed for hotel rooms, meals, show tickets and other perks. Modeled after loyalty programs pioneered by airlines and other industries, the Total Rewards concept has since been replicated across the casino industry.
“Caesars would not be the company it is today" without Norton’s contributions, Loveman’s memo read.
More than a year ago, Caesars upgraded Total Rewards by tracking and rewarding customers for non-gambling spending on purchases such as hotel rooms, meals and shows. That transition has been challenging as it involves working with venues owned by third parties and combining data from multiple sources.
The company's revenue has suffered in the downturn along with the rest of the casino industry. Though Las Vegas has benefited from a pickup in convention traffic and increasing room rates, meaningful recovery has been elusive. Caesars has not benefited from the booming Chinese economy like its Strip competitors with casinos in Asia. Caesars' primary customer base of middle-class gamblers aren't spending money like they used to.
The circumstances surrounding Norton's departure are unclear. The memo doesn't indicate whether the company is hiring a replacement or whether it will move another employee into his job. It says Norton is leaving to pursue "other interests," but doesn't say he has lined up another job.
Norton joined Caesars, then named Harrah’s Entertainment, in 1998. He had previously worked in the credit card industry with American Express, Household International and MBNA.
Norton is one of many casino executives imported from more technologically advanced industries in recent years. He has a bachelor's in finance from Boston College, an MBA from Loyola College and a master’s in Technology Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Caesars spokesman Gary Thompson confirmed Norton's departure but declined further comment.