Lady Luck sale hangs on ‘contingencies’

Jul 23, 2002 7:40 AM

The deal to purchase the Lady Luck Casino is looking like a longshot.

Since Isle of Capri’s announcement that it reached an agreement to sell the Downtown property, the supposed buyer, AMX Nevada, has remained all but invisible. In fact, the company is not even registered with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office.

AMX Nevada is reportedly linked to Applied Business Services of San Clemente, Calif. But there is no phone listing for any company by that name.

Isle of Capri spokeswoman Lori Hutzler said AMX Nevada has instructed her not to release any contact information or comply with any interview requests. "They (AMX) have never gone through this before and they just don’t want to talk to the press,’’ Hutzler said.

On the surface, Applied Business Services-AMX would appear to be a good fit for the Lady Luck. Hutzler relates that the company, also said to be affiliated with the Steadfast Cos. of Newport Beach, specializes in timeshare marketing, and Lady Luck is in the process of converting its west tower into a timeshare facility.

But Lady Luck’s suitor ”” by whatever name ”” has no casino experience, and is reportedly talking to operators to run it.

Adding to the mystery, AMX has had no contact with high-profile gaming operators such as Bill Paulos’ Millennium Management group, which runs the Greektown Casino in Detroit and the Rampart in Las Vegas, or with Larry Woolf’s Navegante Group, which has run Casino Niagara as well as a casino in Argentina.

"We’ve never heard of them and have had no contact from them,’’ Navegante’s Marc Weiswasser said of AMX.

"We haven’t heard a thing,’’ added Millennium spokesman Tom Willer. He added, though, that some messages might have been lost in the shuffle during the Paulos company’s recent move to the Rampart Casino.

Patrick Wynn of the state’s gaming control division confirmed that, as of Monday, his office had heard nothing from AMX, Applied Business Services, Steadfast or anyone associated with Lady Luck.

"It almost sounds like it’s a story planted to hype the sale, to suggest that there’s interest in the property. That was the first thing I thought of,’’ one source told GamingToday.

Lady Luck, which would not divulge the purchase price, cautioned that the transaction — due to close this fall ”” is contingent upon licensing. Meantime, Hutzler said there are no changes in operations at the Lady Luck. And sources confirm that work on the timeshare conversion is still in progress.

"We’re protecting our assets,’’ Hutzler said.

Isle of Capri landed the hotel-casino in 2000 as part of its acquisition of Lady Luck Gaming. Isle owns and operates 15 riverboat, dockside and land-based casinos in 14 markets. But Chairman and CEO Bernard Goldstein said the 700-room Lady Luck "did not fit our core business model.’’