After two years as executive vice president and general manager of del Lago Resort & Casino in Seneca County, Jeff Babinski is departing to return to his roots in the Midwest.
Babinski informed del Lago in late February that he would leaving, according to a statement provided to The Citizen. In a phone interview Tuesday, he said his family was the main factor in the decision.
"It was a big move for us to come out east never knowing what to expect and how we're going to settle in or not settle in," Babinski said. "It ultimately came down to that. I got an opportunity to join another company and we're heading back to the Midwest to be closer to friends and family."
Babinski's last day as del Lago's general manager will be Saturday, March 31. Pending approval of his license by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, he will take over as general manager of the Kansas Star Casino near Wichita. His first day is April 9.
During his tenure as general manager at del Lago, Babinski oversaw construction of the $440 million project. He recalled visiting the Finger Lakes region prior to taking the job and visiting what was then a large construction site.
"It was dirt. It was steel beams. It didn't have its identity," he said.
In February 2017, del Lago's casino opened for business. Five months later, the resort's 205-room hotel and spa opened to patrons.
It was the fourth casino opening Babinski has been a part of as an employee, but it was his first as a general manager.
"This will always have a place in my heart," he said. "I'm going to check up on it periodically and stay in touch with the team that we have here and continue to see growth and prosperity. That will be exciting to see."
His successor hasn't been chosen. An interview process is ongoing, but he said no decisions have been made. There isn't a timetable for hiring a new general manager. In the meantime, a team of executives will take over the general manager's day-to-day duties.
While Babinski and his family are excited to return to the Midwest, he said he will miss his employees at del Lago.
"We have a great team and we have a lot of fun," he said. "We also know when the going gets tough, we get going, and we've had the team to do it."