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Even online, Pitbull is Mr. Worldwide in Casino Awards show

Updated November 25, 2020 - 5:57 pm

Even COVID can’t knock out awards presentations in Las Vegas.

Rap superstar and Mr. Worldwide Pitbull was honored as Casino Entertainer of the Year during the eighth annual Casino Entertainment Awards. The event is usually staged during the G2E summit, and had always been held at the former Vinyl entertainment venue at Hard Rock Hotel. But COVID forced the presentation to a digital format, which streamed Nov. 17.

“Although most casino arenas, showrooms and other entertainment venues are closed due to the pandemic, we are pleased to still be able to honor the outstanding casino artists, executives and venues nationwide that were active during the nomination period of April 2019 to March 2020,” CEA producer Traci Peel said in a statement.

Pitbull is a former Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood headliner.

Elsewhere, those honored included:

* Lee Greenwood and John Meglen of Live Nation-Concerts West, as Casino Entertainment Legends awards. Greenwood, who hit big with “God Bless The USA,” has a long history in Vegas dating to the days he performed in the lounge revue Bare Touch at the Stardust. Meglen’s company brought Celine Dion to her Colosseum at Caesars Palace residency, and is also the booking partner at Resorts World Las Vegas.

* Ken Jeong (“Hangover,” “Masked Singer”) as Casino Comedian of the Year.

* 98 Degrees, featuring Vegas resident Jeff Timmons, as Musical Artist of the Year.

* Thunder From Down Under at Excalibur as Casino Production Show of the Year.

* Park Theater at Park MGM as Casino Arena/Amphitheater of the Year.

* Chris Baldizan, senior vice president of entertainment booking and development of MGM Resorts International, as Casino Entertainment Executive of the Year.

The host of the event was Zowie Bowie, winner of the annual but unofficial He Brings The Party award. Celebs making personal appearances included Wayne Newton, Tony Orlando, Piff The Magic Dragon, Pia Zadora, Clint Holmes, Kelly Clinton-Holmes, Celine, Crystal Gayle, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Don McClean, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., Oak Ridge Boys, Jennifer Romas and Murray Sawchuck.

The CEAs are the official awards exclusively honoring artists, executives and venues in the casino entertainment industry across the country.

“I’ve been to the last several of these, and it was really a departure,” Zowie Bowie’s Chris Phillips said. “I’m proud to be introducing the likes of Celine, Pitbull, Wayne Newton and Tony Orlando, these great people who were presenting and receiving the awards. The experience of hosting with no live audience throwing it to guests was very surreal. I never saw or heard a word anybody said, but it was great to venture out in this format.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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