Diller To Appear Before Nevada Regulators For Full Gaming Permit


Posted on: April 29, 2024, 03:24h. 

Last updated on: April 29, 2024, 03:24h.

Barry Diller, whose IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ: IAC) is the largest shareholder in MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM), will get another shot at a full gaming license when he appears before the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) Wednesday.

IAC Chairman and MGM investor Barry Diller. He will appear before Nevada regulators this week in an attempt to gain full licensing in the state. (Image: CNN)

His appearance before the regulatory agency comes about two years after his full licensing was delayed amid a federal probe into allegations he may have committed insider trading largest shareholder in MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) .

In March 2022, news broke that the US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were looking into whether or not options trades placed by Diller, his stepson Alexander von Furstenberg, and entertainment executive David Geffen on the video game company could constitute insider trading. Prior to news of the SEC investigation, the NGCB recommended full licensing for Diller.

IAC initially took a stake in MGM in August 2020 — a position that’s grown close to 20% of the casino operator’s shares outstanding. Under Nevada law, entities or individuals that control 5% or more of a publicly traded gaming company’s shares must be licensed by the state.

Diller Has Limited License in Nevada

In May 2022 by a vote of 4-1, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) granted limited gaming licenses for Diller and IAC CEO Joey Levin, pending the outcome of the SEC probe. Diller is slated to appear before the NGC on May 16.

Commissioner Ogonna Brown was the lone vote against a limited license for Diller and Levin. But that vote was placed because she supported fully licensing them. At that time, she said there’s no reason to question Diller’s integrity. Brown recently left the NGC.

Two years ago, Diller asserted that his luck with the Activision options trade in advance of the Microsoft takeover bid was nothing more than coincidence and good fortune, calling it a “lucky bet.” At that time, the NGC opted to wait out the SEC probe to see if new developments arose that implicated Diller, but that hasn’t materialized.

Both Diller and Levin are members of MGM’s board of directors.

MGM Mostly Quiet on Diller Licensing

MGM hasn’t been particularly vocal about the NGC’s decision, but in 2022 the casino giant supported Diller, telling regulators that he hadn’t been found guilty of any wrongdoing or even accused of a nefarious deed.

The Bellagio operator added that limited licenses carry negative connotations and that the two-year wait for Diller and Levin to potentially becoming fully licensed in Nevada could be viewed as a threat to licensing stability in the largest gaming state.

Despite the murkiness surrounding his full permitting in Nevada and that of Diller, Levin remains bullish on IAC’s MGM stake.

Our largest holding, MGM is a keen beneficiary of growth in the travel & leisure sector, which has materially outpaced broader consumer spending generally for the last 20 years,” wrote Levin in a February letter to IAC investors. “Consumers’ ever-increasing time spent on social media has elevated exposure and access to new experiences, making the top of the travel & leisure funnel — fear of missing out (FOMO) — only grow.”

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