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Alaska Tribe Proposal for Nevada Casino Advances

6 June 2002

by Cy Ryan

CARSON CITY, Nevada -- An Alaskan company owned by 7,000 Indian shareholders has won preliminary state approval for a casino at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, now being built at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson.

The state Gaming Control Board Wednesday recommended approval for Cook Inlet Region Inc. to be registered as a casino holding company.

The vote came after board members tightened the conditions on how unsuitable shareholders must dispose of their stock; ruled that a person who holds 1 percent of the company can be called in for a background investigation; and adopted a requirement that each officer of the corporation and its subsidiaries must file applications for licensing.

Board Chairman Dennis Neilander called it "the first step" for the company to enter Nevada gaming. The corporation will have to submit its gaming subsidiary for licensing later when the casino is ready to open.

Neilander said this was a "unique" company, formed in 1971 when Congress approved an Alaska Native Claim Settlement, which split the Indian members into 12 corporations. They received close to $1 billion plus land.

The Cook Inlet Corp. received $72 million, with about half of it to be distributed to the 7,000 people. The individuals were also given 100 shares in the corporation and the directors took $34 million and built it into a near $1 billion company with interests in telecommunications, tourism and real estate.

Shareholders cannot sell their stock but it can be passed on by death, divorce or by gift.

It owns half of the Hyatt Regency at Lake Las Vegas but is not involved in the casino operation. The Ritz-Carlton would be the first gaming operation for the corporation. The day-to-day operation would be handled by Las Vegas veteran casino executives Dan Reichartz and Dan Scott.

Cook Inlet, with a book value of $960 million in assets, has joined with Texas investors Sid and Lee Bass and Transcontinental Properties to develop the 350-room hotel at an estimated cost of $200 million.

There are 627,800 shares of stock but nobody owns more than 500 shares because of federal restrictions. And the stock can't be sold to outsiders.

The Control Board first considered the application in April but it had a number of questions on how strict regulatory conditions could be imposed on this corporation.

Board officials worked with Reno attorney Paul Bible, who represented Cook Inlet, to fashion conditions the company would be required to follow when it receives its full license.

The Nevada Gaming Commission will meet June 20 to take final action on the application.

The board also recommended approval for the Mandalay Resort Group in Las Vegas and the Eldorado Resorts LLC in Reno to make a public offering of mortgage notes to refinance the Silver Legacy in Reno. Both companies own the Reno hotel-casino. The amount of the notes was not disclosed.

Other non-restricted applications recommended included Orrin J. Edidin as chief operating officer and executive vice president of WMS Industries; Tabby Sue Breedlove Mulryan and James W. Mulryan to buy the Exchange Club in Beatty from Tabby's mother, Murphy Breedlove; Robert W. Nader as president of United Coin Machine Co. in Las Vegas; Alan S. Abrams as vice president and director at Exber Inc. in Las Vegas; and Exber Inc. to conduct off-track pari-mutuel race wagering at the Las Vegas Club in downtown Las Vegas.

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