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Arnold M. Knightly

Palms pays fines, prizes for two poker tournaments

12 November 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The Palms has agreed to pay a $75,000 fine to the Nevada Gaming Commission for not properly overseeing a pair of poker tournaments held by third-party organizers who did not register with state gaming regulators in late 2007.

The resort will pay another $25,000 to the state Gaming Control Board to cover the cost of the investigation.

Also, the hotel-casino paid $450,416 in unpaid prize money from one of the tournaments, which was organized by the United States Poker League, because 22 checks from the tournament's organizer bounced.

The five-count, 12-page complaint brought by the state attorney general's office Friday cited the resort for hosting the tournaments "without adequate planning and follow-up," and failing "to prevent a situation that might reflect negatively" on the state and casino industry.

Even though the Palms was not a party in either tournament, it is responsible for any activities at the hotel-casino, according to state gaming law.

Palms owner George Maloof said the hotel-casino notified regulators as soon as the problems were discovered and paid off the unawarded prize money in December 2007 for the United States Poker League tournament.

"We didn't wait for the board's resolution," Maloof said. "We're real proactive. From the moment we found out these people weren't paid, we acted."

He said the hotel-casino has taken steps to ensure that future events are properly registered with regulators.

The first incident arose from an Aug. 12, 2007, unlicensed poker tournament organized by Michael Eakman & Associates to benefit the Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada. Michael Eakman & Associates failed to register with the state and took four months to pay the Jewish Community Center its share, a complaint said. Attempts to reach Eakman on Wednesday failed.

The United States Poker League event was held at the Palms Oct. 20-23, 2007. Contact information for the poker league was unavailable.

Maloof said the hotel-casino hasn't sued any of the organizers, but "we're going to do what's right (for us) in pursuing them."