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Navegante Gaming licensed to manage Hooters Hotel

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the gaming license applications of father and son Larry Jean Woolf and Larry David Woolf and their company, Navegante Gaming Inc., to manage Hooters Hotel.

The property filed for bankruptcy in August 2011. Canpartners Realty Holding Company IV, a part of the $20 billion investment company Canyon Capital Realty Advisors, bought Hooters in February 2012 with a $60 million credit bid.

Larry J. Woolf assured the commission the casino was doing well enough to begin modest upgrades to the property, including more than $3 million to replace carpeting, along with some hotel renovations.

“There is no debt on the property,” Woolf said. “The revenue trends are improving.”

Woolf said Canyon Capital has been marketing the 696-room hotel and 35,000-square-foot casino to potential buyers or landlords but has been unsuccessful.

The Los Angeles-based investment firm is considering bringing on a third-party operator to take over hotel operations, while Navegante would operate the casino, he said. The casino is just off the Strip at 115 E. Tropicana Ave.

Woolf said the Hooters name could be off the hotel shortly. He said the company was talking with other hotel operators about replacing Hooters, but nothing has been finalized.

The four-member commission also approved the restructuring of the companies that run the Golden Nugget Las Vegas and Golden Nugget Laughlin.

The five-member commission was short one member Thursday with Joseph W. Brown attending a gambling regulatory conference in London.

The business restructuring allows Fertitta Entertainment Inc. to raise $250 million to refinance the Golden Nugget debt in Las Vegas, which comes due in 2018.

Fertitta Entertainment is now the parent company to Landry’s Gaming Inc., which oversees the casino operations, and Landry’s Holdings Inc., which operates several restaurant chains.

Among the 40 restaurant brands Landry Holding’s operates are Mastro’s Restaurants, Morton’s The Steakhouse, McCormick and Schmick’s, Claim Jumper and The Boathouse.

Its Golden Nugget casinos are in Las Vegas, Laughlin, Atlantic City and Biloxi, Miss.

Landry’s Holdings II Inc. was formed in December to offer the $250 million bond offering.

Commissioners also approved waivers for three companies that could not get their Internet gambling websites started within the six-month time limit on the original license.

The companies were Caesars Interactive Entertainment Inc., Sartini Synergy Online LLC and Spielo International USA LLC.

The waivers expire “on the date of the regularly scheduled Nevada Gaming Commission meeting in December,” according to the commission’s agenda.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

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