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December 22, 2014

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Board recommends approval of Treasure Island sale

Recommendation goes to Gaming Commission for approval later this month

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MGM Mirage sold the Treasure Island to former Frontier hotel owner Phil Ruffin. MGM Mirage had owned Treasure Island since May 2000.

The State Gaming Control Board has recommended approval of the $775 million sale of the Treasure Island on the Las Vegas Strip to longtime gaming executive Phil Ruffin.

In a unanimous vote, the board recommended the property transfer and the licensing of Ruffin, the former operator of the Frontier, which was located about a quarter-mile north of the Treasure Island.

Ruffin sold the land on which the Frontier sat to the New York-based Elad Group, which has plans to develop a resort under the Plaza brand. The Frontier was imploded and poor economic times have forced Elad to delay development.

The board's recommendation goes to the Nevada Gaming Commission, which is expected to consider final approval of the sale at its March 19 meeting.

MGM Mirage on Dec. 15 announced the sale of Treasure Island to Ruffin Acquisition LLC for $775 million -- $500 million in cash when the deal closes at the end of March and $275 million over two years at 10 percent interest.

Ruffin, who appeared before the Control Board when the Frontier deal was approved about 10 years ago, told board members he has no plans to modify operations at the Treasure Island.

"We will bring in some of our people to work with them," Ruffin told the board. "They have a good management team and I've always said that if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The one part of the casino that would see some management change is in the race and sports book. The Treasure Island book currently is on an MGM Mirage system.

Until Ruffin installs his own system the book would be operated by MGM Mirage, and in a separate board item, that operation was recommended for approval.

Ruffin said it would probably take about six months for the sports book transition to occur. Until then, MGM Mirage would run the book and when the transition occurs, the workers would become Ruffin's employees.

Ruffin said he felt he was getting a great bargain to acquire 3,000 rooms on the Strip for $775 million.

"I've been very interested in the T.I. for some time," Ruffin told the board. "I like the location even better than the Frontier. Even though volume is down now and it probably will be for a couple of years, I think this is a great long-term investment."

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