In late December the Snoqualmie Tribe announced its appointment of a new interim CEO and president for Snoqualmie Casino. Stanford Le, who became the casino’s chief marketing officer in June 2018, has stepped into the role.
A Snoqualmie Tribe press release detailed that Le’s work as chief marketing officer helped achieve a record-setting 2019 for the property and milestone year for the Tribe. The Tribe also recently purchased the Salish Lodge property and surrounding traditional lands that are recognized as the birthplace of the Snoqualmie people.
Le has global senior executive experience leading integrated resort property strategy for Fortune 500 casino companies internationally and regionally, including Wynn Resorts, Sands China (Las Vegas Sands) and Caesars Entertainment. While working with those companies he opened or was part of pre-opening planning for five different integrated resort properties.
Le grew up in Las Vegas. He said his family had fairly limited means, but he was not going to let that stop him — and he certainly wasn’t going to let his family pay for him to go to college.
“I made a promise to myself that no one would pay for any of my schooling, any of my time at university,” he said.
Subsequently, he began working around the clock at casinos to completely pay for school. He said he worked as a casino person all over the place, filling various roles such as valet, bellhop, concierge and front desk.
He often worked the graveyard shifts at night and attended class early in the morning. For four years he did that as he completed his undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“I was able to fulfill my promise to myself that no one would ever have to pay for my school,” he said.
In his initial years of college, he thought about becoming a doctor, he said. He even passed the gatekeeper organic chemistry class needed to proceed as well as a rotation in a hospital emergency room.
There, he realized he doesn’t like hospitals and is actually a “germaphobe” he said. Plus, having grown up as an athlete, he normally had been taught to avoid them. Still, he thinks it was good experience, even if he didn’t move forward in the medical field.
“It’s invaluable when you’re trying to learn about career paths to walk a mile in someone’s shoes,” he said.
He continued his employment at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He went on to pursue his LSAT (law school admission test) and GMAT (graduate management admission test), passing both.
After that, he went to Cornell University where he concurrently earned both his master’s degree in management and his law degree, he said.
After college, he was recruited by Caesar’s Entertainment in Vegas. He went on to Atlantic City where he was the vice president of marketing for Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City.
Later, Le was recruited by Golden Nugget as the vice president of marketing at its Atlantic City location.
He went back to Las Vegas to open a resort for Caesar’s.
Eventually he was recruited to China where he worked for Sands China.
Next he worked for Wynn Resorts. He worked at their resorts in Las Vegas, Boston and Macao.
He has worked in China for four and a half of the last six years. He said his family moved back to Las Vegas when it was time for his oldest to start high school, and he worked at Wynn Las Vegas and helped open Wynn Boston Harbor.
He said along the way he encountered the opportunity to come work in Snoqualmie. Seattle was always where he wanted to live since he visited when he was 13.
“The opportunity to come here was too amazing to pass up,” he said. They now live in Bellevue.
Le became chief marketing officer for Snoqualmie Casino, until two months ago when they asked him to become interim CEO and president.
“The neatest part about this casino is it’s a wonderful property. It’s got a great team and it has amazing potential. I wouldn’t have come here if there was not amazing potential here,” he said.
He also said he’s glad to be able to work for a company not beholden to the stock market but actually working for a company that takes care of people – the entire Tribe.
“I think that’s really special,” Le said.
Revenue from the casino supports educational programs and support programs, he said.
As far as the possibility of bringing changes to the casino in his new role, he said there is always opportunity to grow.
“We’re always looking to improve on things,” he said. “The company and the casino has done a good job over the last couple years. But you don’t have to be sick to get better.”
He said he’ll continue to build on the profile of the casino from a brand perspective and he also aims to maintain the casino’s ranking of one of the state’s best places to work.
“We’re not just going after external customers, but making sure our internal customers, team members, feel special every time they come to work,” he said.
Le said it is an exciting opportunity because the already stellar company is at an exciting time in its history.
“For me it’s taking leadership of an already amazing team and seeing how far we go,” he said.
With the Tribe having recently acquired the award-winning Salish Lodge and Spa, he said there are even more opportunities. They are thinking about opportunities they can leverage with the new partnership.
The Tribe also recently purchased Eighth Generation, a Native-owned art company.
“They have wonderful, innovative and fabulous imagery and products,” Le said, noting he’d like to explore any opportunities to work with them.
He also touched on how, “everybody wishes Snoqualmie Casino would build a hotel.”
While he said there’s nothing concrete and he can’t speculate if there will someday be a hotel in the casino’s plans, he said it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
“We would all love to see one built,” he said. “But we do have Salish Lodge we can work with now, which is going to be a wonderful opportunity to build a relationship with.”
While his title does have the word “interim” in it, he said he’s hoping to stay as long as possible.
“I’m hoping the Tribe will give me the chance for the permanent role, but whatever they decide I will support them 100 percent,” he said.