In a page directly from Martin Scorcese's adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi's Casino, SLS Las Vegas was granted an unrestricted gaming license by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
The hearings, wonderfully live tweeted by LVRJ's Howard Stutz, were chock full of gasp and gag inducing moments, that touched upon SLS Las Vegas ownership structure, EB-5 funding process and the shadowy relationship between Stockbridge, sbe entertainment, SLS Las Vegas and Sam Nazarian.
Nazarian, absent from the proceedings except for narrating an SBE promotional video, was not part of the licensing process as investigations into his suitability are still ongoing. Nazarian has yet to seek, or be approved for a Nevada gaming license - a full eight years since his SBE entertainment and Stockbridge entered into agreement to purchase the Sahara.
Control Board members questioned both SLS property president Rob Oseland and Stockbridge CEO Terry Fancher about the business structure of the SLS Las Vegas venture. Fancher stated that Stockbridge has "ultimate control" over SLS, with SBE and Nazarian a 10%, non-voting partner. SBE is not licensed for gaming, and as a result will not be able to participate in nightclub operations, which are controlled by casino licensees. SBE only controls F&B brands and hotel operations, Rob Oseland will oversee F&B, hotel operations and casino operations, he reports directly to Stockbridge CEO Terry Fancher.
Sound familiar? Replace Terry Fancher with Kevin Pollock and Rob Oseland with Don Rickles and Sam Nazarian with Robert DeNiro. SLS really IS trying to bring a bit of Hollywood to Las Vegas!
Anyone who thinks that "visionary" Sam Nazarian isn't going to be running the show at SLS Las Vegas is nincompoop. Sam is the one pitching to Chinese EB-5 investors, he's the one promoting SLS on The Hills, he's the one taking credit for hiring Rob Oseland, he's the one doing all the TV and newspaper interviews, he's the one who signed the "Be Back Soon" letter he taped to the Sahara's doors, he's the guy who personally closed Sahara's doors and he's also the person who reads and posts comments on VT.
All this for only 10% ownership of one of the diciest casino propositions in town? Derek and Greg Stevens own 20% of the Riviera. #hogwash.
To their credit (loosely) Gaming Control issued conditions to the approval of SLS Las Vegas license - formation of a compliance plan that will ensure that the nightclubs and casino operations are firewalled from SBE/Sam Nazarian and creation of an escrow fund to hold SBE's share of casino profits until Nazarian gets a license. Did Gaming Control just grandfather Nazarian into casino ops with the threat of a spanking when Dad gets home? But what if he proves to be unsuitable for a license? Can the property even have a gaming license if their 10% partner is found unsuitable? Lets say the investigation into Nazarian's history drags on for a year... what happens to the money in escrow should he be unsuitable?
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