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Nevada Gaming Commission OKs acquisition of Affinity Gaming

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the $580 million acquisition of Affinity Gaming by a New York-based private equity firm.

Z Capital Partners LLC, the private equity management arm of Z Capital Group LLC, intends to keep Affinity’s management team in place and plans to be “acquisitive” about future opportunities, according to James Zenni, president and CEO of the Z Capital Group.

Affinity operates three hotel-casinos in Primm and the Silver Sevens in Las Vegas.

Under terms of the purchase agreement, Z Capital and its affiliates, which owned 41 percent of Affinity’s outstanding shares, purchased most of Affinity’s remaining outstanding shares for $17.35 per share in cash. Commission Chairman Tony Alamo noted that 0.6 percent of the shares were purchased separately by Z Capital executives — a move he was happy with because it demonstrated that they have financial “skin in the game.”

Z Capital has received a debt financing commitment in the amount of $465 million from Citizens Bank, N.A.

Affinity owns and operates Whiskey Pete’s, Buffalo Bill’s and the Primm Valley Resort in Primm.

Late last year, the company completed a $3.2 million face-lift of the 248-room Whiskey Pete’s.

The company modernized the rooms with a top-to-bottom overhaul with new wallpaper and fixtures. Renovations included the addition of new bathrooms, upgraded beds and carpeting, modern furnishings and appliances including refrigerators, flat-screen televisions and plug-ins for laptops, smartphones and other devices. Company officials said it was the first major work done on the rooms since the property opened in 1977.

In other business, the commission approved the licensing of the off-Strip Stage Door Casino, adding a condition that its operators put up $20,000 for regulators to monitor the property.

The state Gaming Control Board credited general manager Randall Markin for turning around the fortunes of the property on Linq Lane by executing a plan to bring in a security expert to make recommendations that made the place safer.

Regulators said the property received an above-average number of police calls for underage drinking and gambling in recent months.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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