Roski sues; says he was dealt ‘nine of hearts’

April 17, 2001 6:08 AM
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LAWSUITS ARE COSTLY! Convinced that he was dealt the nine of hearts, major league franchise owner Ed Roski filed a lawsuit in district court Monday against Las Vegas Hilton Hotel Corp., Park Place Entertainment (PPE) and Hilton Hotels Inc., as well as John Does one through 50.

As far as I can see, the lawsuit has to do with the failed sale of the Las Vegas Hilton to Roski for approximately $300 million.

The decision to sell the off-Strip resort was that of Arthur Goldberg prior to his sudden death and at a time when he was chief executive officer and president of Park Place. It seems as if the proposed sale never sat well with either Steve Bollenbach or Barron Hilton. The word is that - for whatever reason - the Las Vegas Hilton is a "pet" possession of Hilton. At the time, Goldberg had the authority to put the sale through. Surprisingly, the suit alleges that Hilton Hotels Inc. was one of the companies that showed an interest in acquiring the hotel-casino.

Goldberg viewed the Las Vegas Hilton as a "white elephant."

In the lawsuit Roski alleges that the proposed acquisition had the blessing of Nevada gaming authorities. Further, Roski would be able to retain the name Las Vegas Hilton for a fee of $5 million a year. Even while Goldberg was alive, according to the complaint, Hilton people began changing the agreement and making unreasonable demands. Further, Goldberg had to take actions to prevent the Hilton changes. At the same time, Las Vegas Hilton executive personnel and high-end customers were diverted to other Park Place properties, including Caesars Palace.

As a result, it is alleged, there was a rapid decline in cash flow (EBITDA). Yet, it is charged, the expenses remained on the books of the Las Vegas Hilton.

During the course of negotiations, Goldberg agreed to a $30 million mezzanine financing deal. However, Roski alleges that the provisions of the deal - after Goldberg’s death - were so prohibitive that it made it impossible for Roski to accept.

News of the lawsuit broke at deadline. Comments from either side were not available. Roski is part owner of the Los Angeles Kings and Lakers, Staples Arena in Los Angeles and the Silverton Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

IT AIN’T NECESSARILY SO! Despite rumors that billionaire business tycoon, Carl Icahn, is ready to gobble up the bankrupt The Regent Las Vegas, I don’t believe it!

As a matter of fact - from my best sources - comes reports that there aren’t any bidders for the Summerlin resort. That doesn’t mean to say no one’s interested. But, it tells me that everybody’s waiting for it to go on auction.

Then everyone, Icahn included, is apt to have checkbook in hand.

In my seek-and-find mission on The Regent Las Vegas, I discovered a new name among the interested parties. It is that of the Peccole Group. The word is that they see the site as a great one for time-shares, which - by the way - are hot, hot, hot!

"CALLING ON MY DREAM BOOK!" That’s what a rosebud whispered on the telephone when she called to give me her skinny.

"I had a dream the other night," the rosebud said. "It was so lifelike I couldn’t believe it was only a dream.

"It had to do with two powerful casino owners swapping a Strip hotel and cash for the Las Vegas Hilton. I tell you, when I woke up I couldn’t believe that it had not taken place."

According to the rosebud’s dream, Michael Gaughan had a wad of money in his hand and he was going to swap the dough and the Barbary Coast for the Las Vegas Hilton."

More rosebud: "Gaughan didn’t seem a bit upset about going for the cash. But, he seemed to be sweating giving up his prized Barbary Coast. He kept saying it was his first big-time hotel.

"The next thing I remember, everyone was concerned that the deal - although close - had run into a snag. Michael was being asked what happened. He shrugged his shoulders. One guy in the dream - I couldn’t make him out - told Michael that he wasn’t the only one with a prized property. He said Barron Hilton felt the same about the Las Vegas Hilton."

When the rosebud was through I told her I don’t go for pipe dreams.

Before hanging up, she snapped: "Don’t laugh, sometimes dreams come true!"

DUST OFF THE PINSTRIPES! I hear veteran casino bon vivant Dan Chandler will slide into his Caesars Palace pinstripes once more. It’s the seventh time in a long career.

I asked Chandler for the scoop.

"This will be my seventh and final
career move back to Caesars
Palace. I can promise you that. I’ll be working for Delores Owens as I have done many times in the past.
I can’t wait to begin," Chandler told me.

Chandler has spent a career in the casino business as a good shepherd. He rounds up the sheep, takes them to the shearers where they shed their wool and he makes sure they leave with a smile.

Chandler, it’s said, has been to the shearer himself - a life care center in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he left 40 pounds of himself behind.

"I feel great," Chandler said. "I’m looking forward to Caesars again and I can’t wait for the Kentucky Derby."

SING, SING BLUES! That’s the new tune Robert Brennan will be singing now that the penny-stock tycoon has finally heard a verdict that will come with prison time, big time.

Monday, Brennan, founder of International Thoroughbred Breeders (ITB) and former owner of the since demolished El Rancho Hotel/Casino (now the property of Turnberry Associates), was convicted of seven counts of bankruptcy fraud. The charges carry potential federal prison terms of six to 10 years each.

He has been free on bond, but that may end Tuesday (April 17) following a court hearing.

While claiming to be broke, he lived lavishly through one ploy or another. One of his principal accusers, a financial services executive who was granted immunity from prosecution, testified he helped Brennan hide about $4 million. Part of the loot reportedly came in the form of $525,000 in Mirage Resorts casino chips.

FARES LAND SOFTLY! Leave it to National Airlines. With advertising headlines touting, "Look where our fares have landed," Las Vegas’ hometown airline is offering travelers fares as low as $34 each way between Los Angeles and Las
Vegas and $119 each way between the East Coast and Las Vegas.

A company spokesman told GamingToday that the fares are available throughout the carrier’s route system for travel through May 23. Additional sale fares are available between May 24 and September 30 at slightly higher levels.

Tickets must be purchased by April 22.

BENNIES ON THE INSIDE! "Can you imagine how much Bill Boyd would have been bonused if Boyd Gaming (BYD) had had a good year?" asked a stockholder.

"Word is that company Chairman and CEO Bill Boyd, whose salary is about $1.1 million a year, was granted a bonus of $709,000 for the year 2000. But, from the standpoint of the company’s operation, it was a lousy year. The stock price hit a high of $6.12 and a low of $3.25, but it’s been floundering at the $3-plus range for weeks.

"As for earnings, the company made a little more than $63 million, but that includes $72 million it got for giving up a contract to run an Indian casino.

"In fact, things were so bad for the fourth quarter, even Billy B. expressed his dissatisfaction. In his report to the stockholders, he said, ‘I am clearly disappointed with fourth quarter results . . ."

But that didn’t stop him from taking his annual bonus, did it?

BERMAN’S READY TO MOVE! "If Lyle Berman has his way, construction of a casino on his land at the corner of Harmon Avenue and the Las Vegas Strip will begin in the first or second quarter of 2002," said a Wall Street pipe.

"You don’t hear much about Berman, especially since his company’s stock (Lakes Gaming Inc./LACO) is so thinly traded. It’s selling for 10 bucks a share and will have earnings in 2001 of between $1.80 and $2.00 a share.

"And, if you check the balance sheet, you’ll see that LACO has a current book value of between $18 and $19 a share, which includes cash, land or loans to Indian tribes that the company will be building casinos for.

"No plans for the Harmon property have been publicized as yet, but don’t be surprised if Berman comes up with a partner in the project," said the pipe.