Virginia McDowell

GGW Vice Chair
Retired CEO,
Isle of Capri Casinos


Named Gaming Executive of the Year for 2009 by Casino Journal Magazine, Virginia McDowell has always performed at the top of her game. Among the top publicly-traded gaming corporations, she served as the only female president and chief executive officer of a major gaming operating company from 2007 until her retirement from Isle of Capri Casinos in April 2016. Her achievements include combining thirty-five years of casino experience with strong business skills and a demonstrated ability to communicate at every level, and she has served as a frequent featured or keynote speaker, moderator or panelist at universities, civic organizations and charitable organizations and major industry conferences.

For more than three decades, Virginia has analyzed corporate strategy, researched customer trends and studied competitive markets resulting in a unique perspective among gaming operators. She joined Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., serving first as president and chief operating officer and then president and chief executive officer. Her proven leadership experience in both regional and destination markets are coupled with success in the areas of operations, information technology, business development, and marketing, including sales, corporate communications, and branding. She spent sixteen years working in the Atlantic City market before joining Argosy Gaming Company in Alton, Ill. as a member of the turnaround management team. From 2005 through 2007, Virginia returned to Atlantic City to serve as executive vice president and chief information officer for Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc.

A 1980 graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Virginia is a former member of Temple’s Presidents Advisory Board, and currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of Saint Louis University, and the Board of Directors of HavenHouse St. Louis. She is also a board member of the Saint Louis Sports Commission, the Board of the United Way of Greater Saint Louis, and an advisory board member of the St. Louis Crisis Nursery.

Community service has long been a part of Virginia’s life and her leadership extends outside the office. She was the founding board chair and president of Gilda’s Club St. Louis, and previously served as president of AMC Cancer Research and a board member at Churchill Center & School.

Her hard work has been recognized with several prestigious awards. In 2015, CEO Connection named her one of the 25 Most Influential Women of the Mid-Market. In January of 2014, she was named by Small Business Monthly magazine as one of the Most Admired CEO’s and in 2013, she was honored with the Hellenic Spirit Foundation’s “Athena Award.” In 2011 and 2012 the St. Louis Business Journal named her one of the Most Influential St. Louisans. In 2010, she was named by the YWCA as a Leader of Distinction; honored with the Community Service Award by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and presented with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the Casino Marketing industry conference. She was honored as one of the 2008 Winning Women Regional Economic Development Award winners, and in 2007 named one of Casino Enterprise Management magazine’s “Great Women of Gaming.