Nevada ups the ante for gaming investors

June 25, 2002 10:40 AM
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Institutional investors can hold bigger shares of casino stock, thanks to the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Regulators last week raised the 15 percent limit on outstanding stock to 19 percent. The change, effective immediately, gives large holders a chance to build their gaming portfolios ”” and a little cushion when casino companies launch stock buy-back programs.

"If an investor held, say, 14½ percent and the gaming company bought back a large block of stock, that could necessitate a distress sale,’’ said one analyst. "This gives them a little breathing room.’’

Institutional investors currently hold substantial numbers of shares in 30 publicly traded casino companies.

In other action, Cook Inlet Region Inc. moved a step closer to taking the reins at the Ritz Carlton casino at Lake Las ­­Vegas.

Under a plan ratified by commissioners, Cook Inlet’s 7,000 shareholders will be thoroughly investigated for suitability by state regulators. Any questionable tribal members will be required to forego any proceeds from the new casino venture.

  "This will be the most stringently regulated operation in the state,’’ said Paul Bible, representing the Alaska-based tribe.

  The Ritz Carlton casino is scheduled to open Jan. 16, 2003, the Sunday before the Super Bowl. Under Cook Inlet ownership, the casino would be operated by veteran gamers Dan Reichartz and Dan Scott, who are expected to apply for licensing in December.

  The adjoining MonteLago Village, where roughly half of 170 luxury condominiums have been sold, is set to debut in April.