Larry Woolf navigating Far East casino deals

Dec 27, 2005 2:41 AM

Veteran gaming executive Larry Woolf remains very busy on widely separated fronts as he jets between Las Vegas and the Far East, where he is eyeing prospects for a resort development on a chain of islands in the Straits of Taiwan.

His Las Vegas-based Navegante Group has taken over operation of the former Barrick Gaming properties scattered along downtown’s Fremont Street corridor. Woolf was retained by former Barrick partner the Tamares Group, the latter having forced Barrick out. These properties include the Plaza, Las Vegas Club, Gold Spike, Western and a lot of real estate.

The first thing to do is get in there, Woolf said, and stabilize things. He dismisses the notion that Tamares is eager to sell its downtown holdings.

Other sources contend Tamares wants very much to swing a deal for these properties. Even so, the facts speak for themselves — nothing has occurred.

A long, long way from Fremont Street, on the Pescadores or Penghu Islands in the Taiwan Straits between China and Taiwan, Woolf has signed on to help develop a casino resort project that could take shape over the next two or three years.

He says the plan is a project of Amazing Limited, a land development company registered on the Isle of Man. University of Nevada professor Bill Eadington is also on the development team.

The company’s website reports that gaming legislation will be proposed sometime after the Chinese new year in 2006 with the Amazing group expected to get the first of three licenses.

The project will include a casino, hotel and other resort features on the beach. The owner has accumulated 27 acres of land and is seeking qualified investors with the financial resources to carry out the resort development. Navegante has an agreement with the owner to develop and manage the resort.

Airline service to Penghu is already in the works and would put 300 million people within a 90-minute airline flight of whatever is developed, including the cities of Shanghai and Beijing.

Factor in Woolf’s consulting work on Macau and you have sufficient work to ensure the former senior executive in the Caesars and MGM organizations will continue piling up the frequent flier miles.


Icahn eyes AC

Carl Icahn’s purchase from Harrah’s of the Laughlin Hilton and a roughly 7.5 acre tract of Atlantic City property may take a sharp turn before the ink is dry on the purchase agreement.

The thinking of some well-placed sources is that Icahn wants the seven-plus acres of property with Boardwalk frontage a lot more than he wants the Laughlin hotel and casino with its 2,000 or so rooms.






Why would that be? The seven acres will enable Icahn to take his Sands right up to the Boardwalk, just like the other big properties.

As for Laughlin, the thinking is that he may decide to flip it, but we’ll see.

Why would he do that? From the sound of things said around the Hilton since the deal was announced, there have been remarkably few words about the future use of this facility, which was built by Hilton Hotels back in the late 1980s before its gaming properties went through all the name changes and spin-offs.

And does this particular property seem to mesh nicely with his Arizona Charlie’s properties in Las Vegas? No, not really, is the generally-accepted thinking.

As for Harrah’s, it had been very anxious to get the Laughlin Hilton off its books and out of the company. Harrah’s already owns the market leader there on the banks of the Colorado River.