New Fitz owner feels lucky

October 23, 2001 8:45 AM
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Fitzgeralds has a new owner and a new infusion of cash with the arrival of Detroit businessman Don Barden.

Barden, owner of the Majestic Star in Gary, Ind., hopes to parlay his Chicagoland clientele into Fitzgeralds customers. And to make the Downtown casino more attractive, he pledged $2 million in a year in capital improvements.

Brokerage firms are equally bullish, predicting that Barden’s debt offering “will be relatively easy to take to the street.’’ Barden expects to raise $140 million toward his $149 million purchase.

Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard praised Barden, calling him “a risk taker ”” and I like that.”

With approval of associated purchases of gaming operations in Tunica, Miss., and Black Hawk, Colo., Barden is the first black casino owner licensed in multiple jurisdictions.

In other action, the Gaming Commission extended a two-year limited license to MTR Gaming.

Modifying the Control Board, commissioners voted unanimously to approve only a two-year permit. Chairman Bernhard said he was concerned that the West Virginia-based company’s compliance committee has dropped from five members to three.

MTR Gaming, headed by president Ted Arneault, owns the Ramada Inn/Speedway Casino in North Las Vegas. It also receives a portion of the Nevada revenue on simulcast races from its West Virginia track.