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Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

'Ho Sale Dispute Spurs Suit

8 August 2005

An investor attempting to purchase the Westward Ho hotel and casino is locked in a legal dispute with the property's owners, claiming they breached an agreement to sell the property and let it fall through.

Westward Ho owners are now in negotiations to sell the north-Strip casino to another undisclosed buyer, though the deal will likely be delayed until the lawsuit is resolved.

The Westward Ho opened in 1965 and has about 700 hotel rooms. It is located on the west side of Las Vegas Boulevard, north of the Stardust and south of the Slots-A-Fun and Circus Circus, across the Strip from the Riviera. The 'Ho, as it is popularly known, also has frontage on Industrial Road.

Tracy Suttles, a residential developer based in Texas, filed suit in Clark County District Court against Westward Ho Properties LLC in June. He also failed in a previous attempt to buy the property in 2003.

Westward Ho owners claim Suttles filed suit to block the sale of the property to a third party. In the suit, the owners paint Suttles as an untrustworthy investor who strung them along.

"Since the prior deal in 2003 ... Suttles had represented that he had readily available equity and financing to consummate the purchase of the property," Westward Ho said. "Yet it became clear that each of these representations was untrue as he failed to meet all deadlines for depositing funds, other than the initial deposits. Sellers were led to believe that Suttles lacked any credibility whatsoever."

Suttles claims Westward Ho representatives aimed to thwart the purchase from the start.

Westward Ho avoided an obligation to close the deal with Suttles in order to "take advantage of the spiraling real estate values along the Las Vegas Strip ... the value of the property is now significantly more than the agreed purchase price as provided in the purchase agreement," the complaint said.

Westward Ho officials referred calls to the property's Las Vegas attorney, who declined comment. Suttles' Las Vegas attorney did not return calls by press time.

Suttles attempted to purchase the property for about $78 million in 2003, according to Westward Ho's reply. Suttles was unable to come up with funding to close and escrow was terminated in September of that year. In 2004 Suttles tried again, depositing earnest money of $1 million. Suttles failed to make another payment of $2 million and obtained multiple extensions, after which escrow was terminated again.

Suttles' version of events differs.

The investor claims he was able to come up with a $2 million payment and that Westward Ho agreed to loan Suttles the purchase price shortfall. Westward Ho owners say there's no written evidence of any such agreement.

Suttles also claims the Westward Ho failed to produce information needed to close on financing and that he was left with little time to scramble for investors. He claims Westward Ho refused to meet with lenders interested in supplying additional financing, including hotel chain Columbia Sussex.

The suit asks for compensatory damages, lost profits, punitive damages and an order obliging the Westward Ho owners to close escrow.