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Binion Ruling Stirs Things Up

9 July 2000

BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI - July 9, 2000 - As reported by the Sun Herald: "Mexican textile magnate Kamel Nacif has been a familiar face at Las Vegas gambling tables for some 30 years, using phony identification to wager at Caesars Palace when he was still in his late teens.

"He remains, however, a bit of a multimillionaire mystery man, long suspected by Nevada Gaming Control Board agents of money laundering and arms and narcotics dealing.

"…So when Nacif temporarily was jailed in Las Vegas in 1993 on a Mexican tax evasion warrant, hardly an eyebrow was raised when Binion's Horseshoe Club owner Jack Binion peeled off the $2 million Nacif needed to post bond. In the Las Vegas scheme of things, it was business as usual.

"…But what was apparently an astute business decision seven years ago is turning into a headache for Binion and Horseshoe Gaming. It's also bringing some heat down on gambling regulators in several states, including Mississippi.

"Illinois regulators last week ruled that Binion, in part because of his relationship with Nacif, was unsuitable to do business in the state, a decision that puts into jeopardy the Horseshoe's recent $629 million purchase of Empress Casinos Inc., which operates lucrative riverboat casinos in Joliet, Ill., and nearby Hammond, Ind.

"…If the decision holds up, Binion may be forced to sell Horseshoe Gaming, the country's largest privately held casino company with 9,000 workers and $1 billion a year in revenues.

"The ruling also puts pressure on gambling regulators in Mississippi, Louisiana, Nevada and Indiana; states where Binion is licensed to operate casinos. Regulators will review the decision to determine what disciplinary action, if any, they may take against Binion and his company.

"…Cash transaction violations occur quite often and rarely show a willful intent to launder money. Virtually every casino in Las Vegas has been fined for similar violations. And if a gambler is not on a state's black book of banned customers, a casino commits no wrongdoing separating a high roller such as Nacif from his money.

"`What it constitutes is a lack of knowledge of the gaming industry by the people of Illinois,' casino host Don Chandler told the Las Vegas Review-Journal..."

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