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Gaming Guru

Kevin Rademacher

Binion's Horseshoe Hit with $5 Million Lien

28 November 2003

LAS VEGAS -- Binion's Horseshoe is behind on its payments to the Internal Revenue Service for employee payroll withholding taxes.

The IRS on Nov. 5 placed a federal tax lien on the downtown Las Vegas hotel-casino, claiming some $5 million in taxes are past due.

The IRS lien -- filed against the property's parent Horseshoe Club Operating Co. -- shows that the Horseshoe owes $163,000 for a September 2002 assessment, $2.4 million for an October 2002 assessment, $2.4 million for a December 2002 assessment and $16,000 for a March 2003 assessment.

Bill Brunson, an IRS spokesman, said the lien may not reflect recent payments or additional assessments levied against the company. He would not discuss specific details of the Horseshoe's case.

"Because the lien was filed does not mean something will happen, and it doesn't mean something won't happen either," he said. "It gives us the authority to take such action as seizing property."

In a separate matter last week, Nevada Power executives confirmed that the Horseshoe is past due on bills. Utility executives said they were negotiating a settlement with Horseshoe owner Becky Behnen.

Behnen could not be reached for comment.

Casino industry observer Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor, emphasized that since the the Horseshoe is a private company, little is known of its financial condition.

"On the outside, it looks rather gloomy," he said. "But with a private parent company, you never really know.'

Curtis said the property has been caught in a weak downtown market which operates in the shadow of the Strip. The downtown market, he said, was hurt more by the sluggish national economy than the Strip.

Still, he said the Horseshoe has always managed to survive.

"This stuff has been swirling around for years but they manage to open the doors every day," Curtis said. "The Horseshoe brand is still a very strong brand. That's bound to get them out of a lot of jams."