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Regulators to examine
slot route operator

Apr 8, 2003 7:27 AM

Big expansion plans by slot route operator William Phillips are on hold until state regulators can get some satisfactory answers about his finances.

Phillips, operator of several slot joints at Texaco convenience stores throughout Las Vegas, has applied for unrestricted gaming licenses at four tavern-restaurants. Two properties ”” Three Angry Wives and the Golden Eagle ”” would be renamed Red Hawk and Willy’s, and two more restaurants with gaming would be erected on the valley’s westside.

The establishments would be part of Phillips’ collection of limited liability corporations bearing names such as Mixed Nuts and Coco-Nuts.

But those plans screeched to a halt at the Gaming Control Board in Carson City last week amid concerns that Phillips hadn’t fully disclosed his personal financial affairs.

"The best way to get something discussed in detail is to omit it,’’ said board member Scott Scherer.

Board member Bobby Siller concurred, saying Phillips’ "lack of candor" was "like pulling teeth.’’

Officials noted that withholding information about loans and other financial transactions is a federal offense, as well as a concern to state regulators. Phillips’ application was then sent back for staff review and reconsideration at an undetermined date.

A chastened Phillips acknowledged that he "stupidly thought I could get away with’’ less than full disclosure and pledged to be more forthcoming.

In other action, the board:

”¡ Recommended approval of the Holder Group’s plans for the new Charlie Holder’s Casino Bar on Boulder Highway. Holder said he expects to change the current facility, a PT’s Mining Co., into a "full-service casino."

Holder related that he asked the current general manager to name the property’s top-selling food item. When told that it was a $4.99 takeout pizza, Holder responded that takeout entrees would not be a priority for the new casino. An 18,000-square-foot expansion is already on the drawing board.

”¡ Heard an update on the Ormsby House reconstruction in Carson City. The venerable property is expected to reopen in about a year, said General Manager Larry Tiller. Meantime, the resort plans to open a Wichester Club slot house in the parking garage behind the hotel.

”¡ Recommended approval of lobbyist Harvey Whittemore’s request to assign the gaming license of the Old Reno Casino to Bill Paganetti and the Nevada Casinos group. When the property is shut down by downtown railroad trench construction, its license will be moved to another site elsewhere in Reno.

Paganetti, owner of the Peppermill casinos, said all employees will be retained and that construction of the new, yet-to-be-located casino could take 12 to 18 months. Sources tell GamingToday that the grandfathered license could legally permit its holder to build a casino without a hotel anywhere in Nevada. But Paganetti pledged to keep operations in Reno.

”¡ Heard a report from Ardent Progressive Systems and Games. The Las Vegas-based company, applying for licensing as a manufacturer and distributor, developed a slot tracking system for Golden Gaming, formerly Southwest Gaming. Ardent was praised by the board for developing systems designed for small- and medium-sized casinos.

”¡ Granted preliminary approval of Mandalay Resorts’ request for a continuous or delayed stock offering. Regulators, inquiring about new construction at Mandalay Bay, were told that the 1.8 million-square-foot convention center’s bookings are "right on track with projections." It is Las Vegas’ third largest convention center after the Las Vegas Convention Center and Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Expo.

The south Strip megaresort is currently building a separate 43-story tower with 1,00 suites and 90,000 square feet of restaurants and retail. The tower is expected to open in October, executives said.

”¡ Received a report from WMS Gaming revealing that the company has $80 million in free cash flow and has pending plans for a new public stock offering.

Amid proposed changes to the company’s organization, board member Scherer commented that media mogul Summer Redstone, holder of a 26 percent stake in the slotmaker, could be the subject of a licensing hearing at some point in the future. The commission can instigate a licensing investigation at any time.