CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Nevada Gaming Commission voted today to license a company headed by multi-millionaire businessman Kirk Kerkorian to operate the Desert Inn and Sands hotel-casinos in Las Vegas.
Kerkorian announced last September he was paying Summa Corp. $167 million for the two resorts plus 247 acres of Las Vegas property. The takeover by his MGM Grand Inc. and Tracinda Corp. entities is scheduled Feb. 1.
Kerkorian returns to the Nevada gambling industry after a lapse of nearly two years stemming from his sale of the MGM Grand hotel-casinos in Las Vegas and Reno to Bally's for more than $500 million.
While Kerkorian is returning to Nevada, Summa will be down to only the Frontier and Silver Slipper hotel-casinos in Las Vegas. The Howard Hughes-founded company once owned seven Nevada gaming establishments.
Kerkorian also owns a motion picture company and a transcontinental airline. In over 20 years of involvement in Nevada gaming, he built and later sold the International Hotel, now the Las Vegas Hilton, and the MGM clubs in Las Vegas and Reno.
Kerkorian's corporate chief, Fred Benninger, and his executive vice president, Phil Hannifin, were questioned about future plans for the newly purchased hotels.
Benninger said the new company will at least temporarily keep the top management of the Sands and Desert Inn, and will develop possible expansion plans within four to six months.
In other action, the commission:
- Rejected a bid by Michael Hardman to run the Del Mar Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas. The panel got a report from its investigators that Hardman had lied to gaming agents, had poor or nonexistent business records, inflated financial statements and a questionable relationship with an illegal bookie.
- Voted 3-2 to block William Valentine's licensing as a limited partner in the State Line Hotel in Wendover. Commission Chairman John O'Reilly led the effort to not allow a limited license for Valentine, saying he had concerns about the applicant's lack of maturity and admissions he used cocaine and marijuana. The commission's vote will keep Valentine's interest in the resort in a trust that had expired recently when he turned 21.