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UNLV poised for piece of casino action

Jun 12, 2001 10:57 AM

In a precedent-setting move, the UNLV Foundation could become a limited partner in four Downtown casinos.

The state Gaming Control Board last week approved a proposal by the Exber Family Trust to donate a share of Exber Inc. stock to the foundation. Exber Inc. owns the Las Vegas Club, the El Cortez, the Western hotel casino and holds a minority interest in the Union Plaza hotel casino, according to board records.

John Gallagher, executive director of the UNLV Foundation, said the donation of stock would make it the first non-profit foundation to hold partnership status in a gaming operation.

But Gallagher said his organization has no interest in obtaining a gaming license or in acquiring other casino stock. "This is something the Exbers brought to us. We would be entirely a non-participating partner," he said.

Gallagher said the foundation would liquidate its share when cash was needed, though he would not say when that might be, or how much the share might yield. He estimated that its current value could be "in the six figures."

If regulators approve the Exber request, they will open the door for other non-profits to hold equity shares in casinos. And Gallagher is hoping for the green light. "It’s a well-understood mechanism in every other industry," he noted.

The bequest now goes to the state Gaming Commission for final approval.