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The Gaming Hall of Fame

2000 Inductee

Terry Lanni

Terry Lanni

Industry Leader


Terry Lanni (1943-2011)

J. Terrence (“Terry”) Lanni is best known for his long tenure as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of MGM Mirage (now MGM Resorts). 

Mr. Lanni joined MGM Grand, Inc. on June 1, 1995, as president and chief executive officer and a member of the Board of Directors.  In July 1995 he was named to his current position. 

Mr. Lanni previously was a senior executive of Caesars World, Inc., serving as President and Chief Operating Officer from April 1981 to February 1995, and a member of the Board of Directors of that company from January 1982 to February 1995.  Mr. Lanni originally joined Caesars World in January 1977 as Chief Financial Officer, was named Senior Vice President in April 1978, and elected Executive Vice President in December 1979.

Mr. Lanni graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.S. degree in general management.  In 1992, he received the “Alumni of the Year Award” from USC’s School of Business Administration. 

He was appointed by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1997 to serve on the nine-member National Gambling Impact Study Commission. 

In October 2000 he was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame, and in January 2001 was the recipient of Casino Journal’s 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Mr. Lanni stepped down from MGM Mirage in 2008 after having overseen two of the largest mergers in gaming history; MGM Grand's 2000 acquistion of Mirage Resorts, which created MGM Mirage, and MGM Mirage's 2005 acquisition of the Mandalay Resort Group. He was also a key figure in the construction of CityCenter, a project made possible by the mergers he orchestrated.

In additon to his work with MGM Mirage, Mr. Lanni also served as a member of the Board of Directors of KB Home (NYSE); the Board of Trustees of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation; the Board of Overseers of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California; the Board of Trustees, Santa Clara University; and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.


In Memoriam

Following his 2011 passing, several of his colleagues offered their perspective on his life and career:

Kirk Kerkorian

There is virtually no one that I’ve respected more than Terry Lanni.  His integrity, professionalism and generosity were second to none.  He was a valued and trusted friend and an invaluable colleague.  My heartfelt wishes go out to Debbie and their sons, Patrick & Sean.


Jim Murren, President and CEO, MGM Resorts International

All of us in the MGM Resorts family are heartbroken at learning the news this morning of the passing of our friend and former Chairman Terry Lanni. However, we can take solace in knowing that we had the unique privilege of working with and learning from him.

Terry was an extraordinary leader for our company and our industry. His thoughtful leadership on important issues, from expanding the gaming industry’s reach internationally to establishing the industry’s first formal diversity and inclusion program will forever mark his place in history.

Indeed, Terry’s leadership in pioneering the first diversity and inclusion initiative in our industry was a bold and courageous move at a time when few realized the tremendous importance of all facets of diversity in the globalization of our industry and the world economy.

Terry’s leadership of our company’s diversity initiative was a true reflection of his personal values and his personality. He had a fundamental respect for the dignity and contributions of every human being. He was a man of great humility; he held no illusions of grandeur or self-importance; and he characteristically insisted that everyone, regardless of position, call him simply, “Terry.”

Likewise, Terry’s personal compassion and generosity toward others helped shape our company’s philanthropic support of our communities, often creating the path that other companies would later follow. One such example was our company’s early support of Three Square, which made a crucial difference in giving this organization a foothold in the Las Vegas community.

Education also was a special passion of Terry’s, because he believed that a quality education changes lives. His guidance established our company early-on as the leading business partner in the Clark County School District’s Empowerment School Program, and he also spearheaded MGM’s Academic Excellence Scholarship Endowment at UNLV and the MGM Hites Foundation Scholarship Awards. He led the founding of our own employee-giving arm, the MGM Resorts Foundation, which has become an enormous source of empowerment and pride for our employees’ spirit of giving.

It was this vision that ultimately positioned MGM Resorts International as the leading organization in the hospitality and entertainment industry.

I will be forever grateful for his friendship and guidance.

Even as he faced these last months of his life, he did so with typical grace, courage and strength. Like anyone who knew him, we can all learn to be better people by emulating his values personally and professionally.


Frank Fahrenkopf, President and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA)e

All of us at the AGA were devastated to learn of Terry Lanni’s passing. Terry was without question one of the best and most decent people to ever work in the gaming industry.  He was a kind, generous leader with an uncanny knack for making the people around him better.  People loved working for Terry, and we loved working with him on so many of the industrywide issues that were important to him over the years.   Terry genuinely cared about bringing the industry together to tackle its challenges.  He was a collaborator and an innovator, and his savvy business sense helped guide MGM and – through the AGA – the broader gaming industry to unprecedented levels of success.   Terry was the best kind of boss one could work for, and the best kind of friend one could hope for.  Here was a man whose heart was truly as big as his intellect.  We will miss his humor, his friendship and his ever thoughtful counsel.  The industry has lost one of its true greats.  


John Wilhelm, President, UNITEHERE!

When I was assigned to Las Vegas by our Union in 1987, the then-president of our Union told me that I would meet a lot of very smart people in Las Vegas—a lot of very shrewd businessmen—a lot of very interesting people—and some very funny people as well, but that I should cherish anyone who kept his word.   Terry Lanni never broke his word to me.   He had a keen instinct for finding common ground.  He understood as a businessman that in the gaming industry we always do better if we work together and keep focused on our most important asset: our customers.

I had the opportunity to get to know Terry well during our joint service, along with Bill Bible, on the National Gambling Impact Study Commission in the mid-‘90’s.    He represented the industry on that commission, Bill represented regulators, and I represented employees.   Terry was the perfect representative for the industry, because he was the antithesis of the then-prevailing stereotype of a gaming executive.  His intelligence, sophistication, his ability to listen, and his unfailing courtesy disarmed the more anti-gaming members of the Commission, and was in no small measure responsible for the fact that the Commission, contrary to expectations, agreed to a unanimous report that did not undermine our industry nor provide the basis, as some intended, for federal taxation.

Terry considered running for the US Senate as a Republican.  I tried mightily, though in vain, to encourage him to do that.  I told him that he was a Republican I personally, and our Union, could not just support but enthusiastically work for.  He would have been a great public servant.

Terry and his extraordinary life partner, his wife Debbie, quietly engage in philanthropy and good works far beyond what they let anyone know.   Terry was a person of extraordinary integrity, a brilliant businessman, and in the truest, perhaps the old-fashioned, sense of the word: he was a gentleman.


Family Statement

On behalf of the entire Lanni family, we want to express our deep appreciation for the outpouring of love and support that we've received on the news of Terry's passing.  At the end, he was very peaceful and surrounded by those he loved the most: his family. 

So many have shared with us stories of the ways in which Terry touched their lives.  He was a very humble man and would have found all the attention embarrassing.  Nonetheless, we are all proud of the positive impact he had on so many people's lives and will forever seek ways in which to honor his memory.

Debbie, Sean & Patrick Lanni
Pasadena, CA
July 15, 2011

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Last modified Friday, 08-Apr-2022 11:31:07 PDT



This page last updated Friday, 08-Apr-2022 11:31:07 PDT .