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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Barrick Landlord Files for Share of Gaming

24 June 2005

LAS VEGAS -- The landlord that owns Barrick Gaming Corp.'s downtown casinos has filed an application with state regulators to be allowed to get some portion of the gaming revenue generated by the four properties.

The landlord, Tamares Barrick Las Vegas Properties, is jointly owned by Barrick and a company called Tamares Las Vegas Properties.

Tamares is affiliated with Tamares Group, a private investment company based in New York City, London and Tel Aviv that has so far been a quiet partner because it wasn't licensed to operate the casinos. The company helped fund Barrick's 2004 purchase of the casinos but doesn't manage them.

Barrick Gaming Corp. owns the Plaza, the Las Vegas Club, the Western and the Gold Spike in downtown Las Vegas.

The state Gaming Control Board has scheduled a public hearing next Wednesday to consider the application.

Patrick Wynn, Deputy Chief of Investigations for the state Gaming Control Board, said Tamares is seeking to participate in casino operations "in some fashion." Wynn declined to elaborate, saying regulators were still compiling a report on the situation that will be discussed at the hearing.

Barrick and Tamares officials could not be reached for comment by press time.

Barrick operates the casinos under a tenant relationship with Tamares, a framework Barrick set up so that Tamares wouldn't have to get a Nevada gaming license.

Sources familiar with Barrick say the company has had a bumpy relationship with its landlord. A few months ago, the company distributed a proposal to raise from $75 million to $100 million for a variety of purposes including buying out Tamares' interest in the properties.

Tamares Group was founded by Finnish entrepreneur Schlomo Zabludowicz and is now headed by his son Poju. The company's Web site cites "significant worldwide interests in finance, real estate, technology, manufacturing and leisure."

An article that appeared in The Nation in 2002 cited Poju Zabludowicz's support of Israeli neoconservative causes as well as his company's ownership of an arms manufacturer.