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SLS Approved For Gaming License, Nazarian Firewalled

By Chuckmonster on Wednesday, 6th August 2014 2:18pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 11


In a page directly from Martin Scorcese's adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi's Casino, SLS Las Vegas was granted an unrestricted gaming license by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

The hearings, wonderfully live tweeted by LVRJ's Howard Stutz, were chock full of gasp and gag inducing moments, that touched upon SLS Las Vegas ownership structure, EB-5 funding process and the shadowy relationship between Stockbridge, sbe entertainment, SLS Las Vegas and Sam Nazarian.

Nazarian, absent from the proceedings except for narrating an SBE promotional video, was not part of the licensing process as investigations into his suitability are still ongoing. Nazarian has yet to seek, or be approved for a Nevada gaming license - a full eight years since his SBE entertainment and Stockbridge entered into agreement to purchase the Sahara.

Control Board members questioned both SLS property president Rob Oseland and Stockbridge CEO Terry Fancher about the business structure of the SLS Las Vegas venture. Fancher stated that Stockbridge has "ultimate control" over SLS, with SBE and Nazarian a 10%, non-voting partner. SBE is not licensed for gaming, and as a result will not be able to participate in nightclub operations, which are controlled by casino licensees. SBE only controls F&B brands and hotel operations, Rob Oseland will oversee F&B, hotel operations and casino operations, he reports directly to Stockbridge CEO Terry Fancher.

Sound familiar? Replace Terry Fancher with Kevin Pollock and Rob Oseland with Don Rickles and Sam Nazarian with Robert DeNiro. SLS really IS trying to bring a bit of Hollywood to Las Vegas!

Anyone who thinks that "visionary" Sam Nazarian isn't going to be running the show at SLS Las Vegas is nincompoop. Sam is the one pitching to Chinese EB-5 investors, he's the one promoting SLS on The Hills, he's the one taking credit for hiring Rob Oseland, he's the one doing all the TV and newspaper interviews, he's the one who signed the "Be Back Soon" letter he taped to the Sahara's doors, he's the guy who personally closed Sahara's doors and he's also the person who reads and posts comments on VT.

All this for only 10% ownership of one of the diciest casino propositions in town? Derek and Greg Stevens own 20% of the Riviera. #hogwash.

To their credit (loosely) Gaming Control issued conditions to the approval of SLS Las Vegas license - formation of a compliance plan that will ensure that the nightclubs and casino operations are firewalled from SBE/Sam Nazarian and creation of an escrow fund to hold SBE's share of casino profits until Nazarian gets a license. Did Gaming Control just grandfather Nazarian into casino ops with the threat of a spanking when Dad gets home? But what if he proves to be unsuitable for a license? Can the property even have a gaming license if their 10% partner is found unsuitable? Lets say the investigation into Nazarian's history drags on for a year... what happens to the money in escrow should he be unsuitable?


Comments & Discussion:

I don't know what to say more than this is going to absolutely fascinating to watch as it unfolds.

I'm going to check if every muffin at Griddle Cafe has an equal amount of blueberries. An equal amount of blueberries.

Female Newscaster: In a wild outburst that followed his gaming license denial, Rothstein followed several stunned commissioners into the hallway where he continued his harangue until his own lawyers and friends urged him to leave.

Ace Rothstein: Bulls**t! Bulls**t! We all have a past. You have a past. I have a past. And my past is no worse than yours. But you guys think you have the right to pass judgement on me!

Female Newscaster: Long suspected of running the Tangiers without a license, yesterday's hearing was to determine whether someone with Rothstein's history was qualified to officially hold a top gaming post.

Ace Rothstein: F*ckin' hypocrites!


I'll be staying tuned to this one. Just another chapter in this wacky saga.

At the time the Sahara closed, it was rumored that the closing was due to Gaming Control refusing to extend Navagante's contract to run casino operations (They were only supposed to be there temporarily while the new owners got licensed.). Supposedly this is why the place sat empty for so long, as they wanted to wait until the funding was lined up and keep the Sahara open until then.

The ownership level that requires being licensed is 10%, what's to stop Nazarian from selling just enough of his stake to dip below 10%?

If Nazarian is found unsuitable to hold a gaming license (provided he actually gets to that point), would there be any blowback on SBE's other venues in Las Vegas? Would MGM Resorts want to be associated with a company whose Chairman and CEO was denied a gaming license?

Perhaps the control board needs to read this. http://www.fastcompany.com/3033354/the-party-starter?partner=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+fastcompany%2Fheadlines+%28Fast+Company%29

So what happens when or if Sam is considered not respectable to get a gaming license? Does he get bought out or does he sit there and look at his shiny toy that he isn't able to play with?

By the way I was shopping for my trip this year on Southwest and they had the place highly rated even though the doors haven't even opened.

Will VT have boots on the ground when this place opens? I'm looking forward to it.

Drake - we have no plans to report on the pomp & circumstance of opening weekend. We will be doing extensive reviews when the PR boobs aren't watching.

FWIW I'm scheduled for a tour this week--I'll definitely share what I see. I'll be at the opening, too, and will share my thoughts.

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