Cook tribe wants to put on the Ritz (Carlton)

Apr 9, 2002 10:42 AM

The Cook Inlet tribe wants to own the casino at the new Ritz Carlton at Lake Las Vegas.

But the Gaming Control Board wants to know how the gaming win is going to be divvied up at the $170 million resort scheduled to open early next year.

Cook Inlet Region Inc. ­­already owns 50 percent of the Hyatt Regency at Lake Las ­­Vegas. But it has no stake in the casino there.

Now, teaming with longtime gaming execs Dan Reichartz and Dan Scott, Cook Inlet is seeking licensure at the Ritz. The duo is well-acquainted with Henry Gluck, the former Caesars World chairman who heads the $5 billion Lake Las Vegas development.

Though the board expressed no reservations about the veteran casino men, regulators wondered about dishing out casino revenues to Cook Inlet’s 7,000 shareholders. “It used to be we were concerned about those unsuitable profiting from gaming,’’ board member Scott Scherer said. “I am sure among the 7,000 there are some who are unsuitable.’’

Indeed, some shareholders are in prison. But board members Dennis Neilander and Bobby Siller opposed Scherer’s suggestion of wholesale licensing and discounted intimations that Alaska natives were involved in organized crime.

The board sent Cook Inlet’s application back to staff for more study.

Cook Inlet carries a diversified portfolio that ranges from heavy equipment and construction services to oilfield businesses. It also has real estate holdings in Scottsdale, Ariz., and telecommunications ventures in several markets, including Las Vegas. Cook Inlet’s investments are valued at $960 million and it has paid out $670 million in dividends in the past 30 years.

In other action, the board:

”¡ Recommended approval of Jim Marsh’s purchase of Tonopah Station. Marsh, a Las Vegas-based car dealer who also owns the Banc Club in the central Nevada town, has affiliated his new property with Ramada Inn. He plans to re-open the renovated hotel-casino by the end of the month.

”¡ Recommended approval of Terry Caudill’s acquisition of the Four Queens. Caudill, a former Circus Circus executive and operator of local taverns, is paying $22 million plus assuming an estimated $4 million in debt. In taking over the downtown hotel-casino from Elsinore Corp., Caudill said he would focus on “value-conscious” locals and tourists. Final approval was conditional upon submission of loan documents.

”¡ Recommended approval of Golden Gaming’s purchase of PT’s Pubs. Blake Sartini, the ex-Station Casinos exec and in-law of the founding Fertitta family, acquired Golden (previously called Southwest Gaming) from his former employer last October. Golden currently services 1,200 slots at 102 locations in Southern Nevada. Sartini said route operations have expanded 33 percent and he expects to add another 200 slots this year. With 23 outlets and more than 300 slots, PT’s is the largest chain of video poker taverns in the valley.

And, finally, mark your calendar: The board slated the Winnemucca Mule Races for June 1-2.