Could the president of the United States build a Las Vegas casino? That’s regulatory terra incognito that Nevada regulators will have to explore as Phil Ruffin and Donald Trump continue with their plan to erect a Trump-branded casino next door to Trump International. Pardon the pun but there’s no precedent for this situation, thanks to a loophole in the law, so Silver State regulators will have to create one. At least some of the work has already been done. A decade or so ago, Trump applied for — and received — a Nevada gaming license. Since it has lapsed in the interim (essentially being imploded along with the Riviera), he’ll have to be scrutinized all over again. However, since the investigation would focus on the years between the first and second gaming application, time in which the most egregious of Trump’s conduct was behind him, I don’t see any hidden booby traps lying in wait.
Or … Trump could take a less-than-10% stake in the property which, while hardly his style, would spare him from the highest level of scrutiny. He could also let his sons apply for licensing instead and defer the issue of wanting to participate until after his time in office. On the downside, even if Trump places in businesses in a trust, as he intends to do, the trust itself would be subject to state approval.
The matter could easily become moot if Trump leaves office after one term or is voted out, since the timeline for building a Las Vegas Strip megaresort is between four and six years — probably closer to the former than the latter in this case. An ex-President Trump could leave the White House one day and cut the ribbon on Trump Las Vegas the next. (The chance to tilt at his Las Vegas rivals must be a sore temptation to a man so driven by ego.)
* Yes, Virginia, there was FBI wiretapping at Trump Tower … of poker player Vadim Trincher. The latter is currently residing in less posh quarters, having been sent to the Big House on the grounds that his sports-betting ring was in cahoots with the Russian mob. (Donald Trump‘s penthouse was just three floors above where Trincher hatched his schemes, as luck would have it.) Three other poker players pled guilty in the case and another two are awaiting deferred prosecution. The conspiracy is the subject of Aaron Sorkin–scripted film, starring Jessica Chastain and Luther hero Idris Elba. With that combination, what could go wrong? (I predict another Oscar in Sorkin’s future.)
* As we could have predicted, the imposition of parking fees at MGM Resorts International properties in Las Vegas is having a ripple effect on valet tips, restaurant checks and bar spending. The solution? Higher parking fees! That’s the scuttlebutt du jour.
* If you’re visiting the Wynn Boston Harbor construction site and want to buy a car at Peppi’s Auto Sales or knock one back at the G&T Lounge, you’re too late. Wynn Resorts has bought and demolished them. It’s part of a campaign (in the military sense) to create a buffer zone around the megaresort. It might also explain some of the budget overruns on the project. Steve Wynn just bought 10 parcels at far above market price. In one case, a house appraised at $353,400 went for $975,000. So Wynn is one of the most “george” buyers you’ll ever want to meet. He’s also removed a considerable amount of urban blight, so at least some people will be OK with the whole thing.
Not everyone is so positive about the experience. Apartment dweller ‘Chrissy‘ suddenly found herself without a roof over her head. “We didn’t know where we were going. We were going to be homeless,” she told the Boston Globe. Responded Wynn Boston Harbor President Robert DeSalvio, “in the short term, we will proceed with demolition and add landscaping to make the entry to our resort spectacular.” According to Wynn Resorts it was, in fact, the property owners who contacted them, looking to sell. Judging by some of the retail prices, they read the market with incredible acuity.
“He’s looking to benefit the neighborhood,” Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria says of Wynn. “If anyone reads this article and they’re currently being displaced, they should know to call my office.”
* The NFL stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders has run into a little stumbling block we like to call the Federal Aviation Administration. Raiders Stadium couldn’t exceed 200 feet in height — as seven of eight domed stadiums in the league do. Mark Davis better plan on digging — both into the cement-like Vegas soil and into his pocketbook. The former might be easier than the latter.