Tribe eyes Lake LV Casino

Jun 4, 2002 2:01 PM

State regulators could pave the way this week for the Cook Inlet tribe to run the Ritz Carlton casino at Lake Las Vegas.

Concerned that the move might run afoul of Nevada statutes, the Gaming Control Board delayed action on Cook Inlet’s request last month. On Wednesday, the tribe is expected to offer safeguards to ensure that no disbursements would go to "unsuitable" shareholders.

Unlike publicly traded corporations that are governed by SEC rules, Cook Inlet cannot force any of its 7,000 members to sell their interest. So, to avoid the prospect of criminals or other unsavory shareholders receiving revenue from a Nevada casino, the tribe will propose screening and segregating gaming investments.

"They’re working on ways to make shareholders suitable,’’ control board member Scott Scherer told GamingToday. Whether the plan will pass muster is anyone’s guess.

  The $170 million Ritz, scheduled to open early next year, would be Cook Inlet’s first equity stake in a Nevada casino. It currently holds a 50 percent share of the Hyatt Regency at Lake Las Vegas but has nothing to do with the casino there.

The tribe is teaming with veteran gaming execs Dan Reichartz and Dan Scott in seeking licensure at the Ritz.

Cook Inlet carries a diversified portfolio ranging from heavy equipment and construction services to oilfield businesses. Cook Inlet’s investments are valued at $960 million and it has paid out $670 million in dividends in the past 30 years.

While Cook tries to enter the local gaming market, another company is exiting. Carnival Cruise Lines of Miami will ask this week to withdraw its application for a gaming license.

"They didn’t get the 1 percent interest they were looking for in Ely so they’re getting out,’’ a government source said.