Thursday, June 4, 1998 | 10:42 a.m.
CARSON CITY -- It may be three or four years before gaming magnate Steve Wynn conceives a grandiose plan for his new acquisition on the Las Vegas Strip.
The state Gaming Control Board Wednesday recommended Wynn's Mirage Resorts, Inc., be permitted to buy the 653-room Holiday Inn Boardwalk casino for $105 million. He has also purchased surrounding property including a restaurant and a shopping center.
Dan Lee, chief financial officer and a senior vice president with Mirage, told the board there would be no immediate change in operation of the resort, which he said "makes good money."
Wynn is now finishing the adjacent Bellagio, scheduled to open Oct. 15. And Lee compared Wynn to an artist, always looking ahead to future projects.
Improvements will be made to the Holiday Inn but there will not be a "massive makeover" in the immediate future, Lee said.
Lee said the purchase of the Boardwalk and the adjoining property totals 12 acres and Mirage paid $144 million, "which probably sets a record," for such a parcel. It will be combined with the 30 acres that was formerly the Dunes Golf Course.
That 42 acres compares to the Monte Carlo's 43, the Alladin's 35 and New York-New York's 19, Lee said.
Lee said there are several alternatives. The present business could be operated indefinitely; or the casino could be torn down but the two-year-old hotel tower could be retained. Or there would be a new resort.
The present management will remain at the Holiday Inn, but it will be supplemented in some areas such as internal controls with employees from the Mirage. And there may be additional help in marketing the property, Lee said.
Lee also said opinions have been requested from two law firms on the operations of the race book at the Holiday Inn.
"The Boardwalk Race Book earns more than the Mirage race book. That's been an eye opener," he said.
He said the Boardwalk offers exotic bets when they are not offered by tracks and he wants to determine if that is legal.
The recommendation of the board will receive final action when the state Gaming Commission meets June 23 in Carson City.
The board also recommended approval for Station Casinos, which operates locals hotel-casinos in Clark County, to lease the King 8 hotel-casino (3330 West Tropicana Ave.) from the Tiberti Construction Co.
Station Casinos executives said Station will take over July 1 and close the business until July 6. It will install new signage, clean up the business; keep the truck stop operation that is a good revenue producer; redo the restaurants and install new slot machines. It will be renamed the Wild Wild West Gambling Hall & Hotel.
Wednesday's meeting was "unusual," said board Chairman Bill Bible, because two former Las Vegas members of the gaming commission appeared for licensing.
Clarence L. Haycock received approval for a 16 2/3 percent share in SSG Gaming, a slot route operator in Henderson; and former Commission Chairman John O'Reilly and his wife, Rene, were cleared as minority shareholders in the CasaBlanca hotel-casino in Mesquite.
The board recommended approval for Las Vegas auto dealer James R. Marsh for a license to run gambling at the Banc Club in Tonopah. Marsh already has a license for the Mispah hotel-casino in Tonopah.
The board also gave preliminary approval to William D. Harrold as president and chief operating officer for the Las Vegas Hilton and as executive vice president at Bally's Las Vegas. Upon questioning by the board, Harrold said a six-foot wall was erected at the Hilton to keep minors out of the gaming area. The hotel was fined $350,000 last month for allowing minors to play slot machines and be in the casino area while awaiting rides on the new attraction, Star Trek: The Experience. He also said gaming tables have been moved out of the area.
The board also recommended approval for Atronic, a German company that operates internationally, to be licensed as a manufacturer of slot machines and to set up business in Las Vegas; and approved Megasports of Las Vegas as a systems operator for off-track pari-mutuel sports wagering;