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Bally's Riverboat Casino Agrees to Buyout Deal

20 January 2003

NEW ORLEANS – The majority owner of Bally's riverboat casino in New Orleans has agreed to a $21 million buyout that would end a lengthy dispute with the gambling hall's operator, Park Place Entertainment Corp. of Las Vegas.

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to consider the deal.

Norbert Simmons, whose Metro Riverboat Associates Inc. owns 50.1 percent of the New Orleans dockside casino, agreed to sell his share of Park Place, which holds the other 49.9 percent and runs the casino.

Simmons has said the management company had taken various actions that could hurt his interests, such as taking high-interest loans from other Park Place affiliates. He also complained that his company was given no voice in Hilton Hotels Corp.'s spinoff of its casino interests into Park Place in the late 1990s.

The amount of the proposed settlement suggests that Park Place is buying Simmons' interest at a deep discount, the Times-Picayune reported.

Simmons said in December that when Hilton Hotels Corp., which bought Bally's Entertainment Inc. in 1996, spun off its casino properties into Park Place Entertainment in 1998, Bally's listed the value of the 49.9 percent interest in the casino in excess of $80 million.

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