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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Landry's Exec Denies Deal with Tamares

1 July 2005

and Dan Kulin

LAS VEGAS – An executive with the Landry's restaurant chain said his company has no plans in the works to buy property from Tamares Group, the landlord and financial backer of Barrick Gaming Corp. that recently purchased Barrick's downtown casinos.

"There's no deal and no plans at this time. We've not talked," Landry's Restaurants Inc. Senior Vice President of Development Jeff Cantwell said.

Landry's is buying the nearby Golden Nugget casino from owners Tim Poster and Tom Breitling. This week regulators approved the transfer of $10 million from Tamares to Barrick to keep the properties afloat. Barrick had not been making its loan payments and needed the money to pay vendors and make payroll.

At a hearing Wednesday, a Tamares official said the company hasn't decided whether to hang on to the properties but has received unsolicited offers to buy them.

"We're definitely interested in doing something downtown but we're not interested in bailing someone out and spending a bunch of money," Cantwell of Landry's said. "We're focused on the Golden Nugget right now. But we'd definitely be interested if something came our way."

The comments come after Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who spoke with Landry's about Barrick, speculated Thursday that the restaurant chain might start talking to Tamares about a buyout.

"I wouldnt be surprised if (Landry's Chief Executive) Tilman Fertitta started talking to them, Goodman said during his regular weekly news conference. "I don't think Tamares is going to hold on to the properties."

Goodman said that his comments were merely speculation and that neither Fertitta nor Tamares representatives have told him they plan to increase their holdings or sell off any properties.

But Goodman said Fertitta has been known to expand his holdings in other markets he has entered in the past and said he would expect him to do so in downtown Las Vegas, too.