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LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Station Casinos has spent the past few years purchasing dozens of large and small land parcels surrounding the Wild Wild West on Tropicana Avenue west of Interstate 15, compiling a site exceeding 70 acres on which the casino operator plans to develop a massive gaming and entertainment complex.
However, a 2-acre location on the northern end of the site, near the intersection of Harmon and Polaris avenues, caused Station Casino executives to spend some time Thursday morning in front of Nevada gaming regulators.
Station Casinos entered an agreement to buy The Men's Club, a topless bar, which will be closed once the transaction is completed. However, one of the land owners is Eugene Cleveland Canepa, who was denied a gaming license in October 1995, when regulators rejected his plans to place slot machines inside a topless bar in Reno.
Station Casinos said the company's compliance committee discovered that Canepa was part of the deal and had been a landlord on several other parcels the company bought for the development site. State gaming regulations require a licensee to gain approval from both the Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission before entering into a contract with a denied applicant.
The control board recommended approval Thursday, giving Station Casinos six months to complete the deal.
Attorney David Arraj, who was representing Station Casinos on Thursday, said the company used an outside real-estate party to acquire the different land parcels. The leases covering businesses operating on the parcels have been converted from long-term to month-to-month so a quick turnaround can take place when the company proceeds with its development plans.
Scott Nielson, executive vice president and chief development officer for Station Casinos, told the control board the company plans to demolish all the buildings on the 70-acre site, including small offices, storage, industrial locations and the Wild Wild West casino.
Nielson said the gaming operator, which has 16 casinos in Southern Nevada, including the upscale Red Rock Resort and Green Valley Ranch Resort, has no intentions of operating the strip club portions of the business. However, he told the control board the company might keep the bar operations open to retain the location's liquor license.
Station Casinos' primary interest now is completing the $600 million Aliante Station in North Las Vegas, now under construction and expected to open early next year.
"We don't have a time frame as of yet on the Wild Wild West site," Nielson said.
The company is in the process of going private through a $5.4 billion management-led buyout that is expected to close by the end of the year.
Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said he didn't have many concerns about the transaction. He said real estate in deals in Las Vegas have become complicated because the actual land owners and partnerships are often masked by the names of the corporate entities.
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