Colorado Casino Ordered to Sever Relationship with Gansevoort Investor
As fallout from the discovery by Massachusetts gaming officials that an investor tied to a Caesars project in Nevada has suspected organized crime connections continues to affect that company and its former partner in an East Boston casino development, Suffolk Downs, Bloomberg News reported this week that a Colorado casino has also been told to discontinue its relationship with the investor in question, Arik Kislin.
Earlier this month, in a move that continues to generate headlines, Caesars Entertainment walked away from its bid to build a $1 billion casino at the site of the historic Suffolk Downs racetrack, which opened in East Boston in 1935, after Massachusetts gaming regulators discovered Kislin’s alleged criminal connections during a routine background investigation.
Kislin had been an investor in a Caesars redevelopment project at the site of the old Bill’s Gamblin Hall on the Las Vegas Strip that would have seen the property transformed into a western outpost of the Gansevoort Hotel, a tony property in New York City’s Meatpacking District, an undertaking that was quickly scrapped by Caesars after the findings by Massachusetts officials.
Casino told to end relationship with Kislin by December
The newest casino at the center of the Kislin controversy is Big Jim’s Gambling Hall and Saloon, located in Cripple Creek, Colorado, which has been warned that its operating license will be revoked if it fails to end its relationship with Kislin before December 20.
According to Bloomberg, Brenda Davis, who is the director of administration for Colorado’s division of gaming, said that the threat against Big Jim’s is unrelated to developments in Massachusetts, though the timing of the move might suggest otherwise.
Kislin – who along with representatives from both the Gansevoort and Caesars, dismissed the Massachusetts findings – wants to be reimbursed for his investment in Big Jim’s. Kislin, a German national, also denies having ties to underworld figures.
Via an email, a public relations expert hired by Kislin, Juda Engelmayer, said, “No legal authority has ever accused him of any wrongdoing in connection with his businesses. The German court documents referenced in some media reports never mention Arik Kislin and never linked him to any criminal activity, and other reports are decades old, stemming from a time when Arik Kislin was in his early 20s and did business with individuals in the former Soviet Union.”
Suffolk unlikely to find new partner prior to public referendum
Meanwhile, back in Boston, Suffolk Downs is scrambling to find a new casino partner ahead of a November 5 referendum that will see East Boston residents heading to the polls to vote on the casino development proposal. Suffolk Downs is actively looking for a new casino partner, which the racetrack says would have to honor the terms of the host agreement that has already been struck when coming aboard the project.
Suffolk Downs has admitted that it is unlikely to find a suitable replacement for Caesars before next week, but says that it expects to be able to do so before the final application deadline of December 31.
Boston voter turnout expected to be high in next week’s election
Whether the recent development with Caesars and Suffolk Downs will sway the opinion of local voters remains to be seen. Voter turnout is expected to be especially high next Tuesday, as Bostonians are predicted to turn out to the polls in droves as the city chooses a new mayor for the first time in two decades. Outgoing Mayor Thomas Menino, who has been in that office since 1993, is retiring due to a number of health issues.
It should be noted that only voters who live in the East Boston neighborhood will be permitted to vote on the casino plan. Though Massachusetts law would have permitted the entire city to have a say on the development proposal, ultimately Boston’s city council decided that only those residents who live in East Boston will be expressing their opinion on the matter in next Tuesday’s referendum.
Massachusetts officials will be awarding three licenses in early 2014 – one for a slots only gambling parlor and two licenses for Las Vegas-style casino resorts – one for the Boston area and another for the Western region of the state. The slots license is expected to be awarded in January, with the two resort permits following suit later on next Spring, most likely in April.
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