Jimmy Buffett OK'd for gaming license


Singer Jimmy Buffett is famous for his sun-soaked songs about tropical drinks and adventures at sea, but the bespectacled entrepreneur was all business when he appeared Thursday before the Nevada Gaming Commission.

As expected, the commission unanimously approved gaming licenses for Buffett and his company, Margaritaville Holdings, two weeks after a recommendation from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Commissioner Joe Brown recused himself from the vote. Brown is president of law firm Jones Vargas, and Caesars Entertainment is one of its clients.

Buffett and his company needed gaming licenses because of a trademark sublicense agreement with the Flamingo that allows Palm Beach, Fla.-based Margaritaville Holdings to share in gaming revenues from the Margaritaville casino that opened in October. The company also operates the Margaritaville restaurant at the Flamingo since 2003.

The commission covered much of the same territory as the Gaming Control Board did when questioning the singer and his business partner, Jonathan Cohlan. There was discussion of the agreement with the Flamingo, which allows the casino to recoup the costs of building out the space with 220 slot machines and 22 gaming tables before Maragaritaville Holdings begins sharing in the gaming revenue. Cohlan said he expects those costs to be recouped within a year.

Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard said Buffett had been investigated just as thoroughly, if not more so, than other gaming license applicants.

"If you make a song about this experience, I hope it's a positive one," Commissioner Tony Alamo said.

After approving Buffett's gaming license, the commission turned its attention to the Rampart Casino. The five-member board unanimously approved licensing for Michael Gaughan III to operate the casino, the ownership of which will shift from Cannery Casino Resorts to Hotspur Resorts Nevada Ltd. effective April 1. Gaughan, who also goes by "Junior," is the son of gaming operator Michael Gaughan and grandson of gaming legend Jackie Gaughan. His family ties factored into the commission's approval, said Commissioner John Moran Jr.

Gaughan, who will oversee the hotel and gaming operations at the Resort at Summerlin (which includes the Rampart Casino and the JW Marriott), told the commission that plans for the casino include remodeling and adding new amenities in the coming months.

The commission also approved Affinity Gaming's application to receive a share of gaming revenues from the Rampart in exchange for consulting on the casino's operations for Hotspur Resorts.

Review-Journal reporter Caitlin McGarry may be reached at 702-3875273 or cmcgarry@reviewjournal.com.

 

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