Barry Diller seeks license extension from Nevada Gaming Commission

Barry Diller, a billionaire media tycoon, is expected to reappear before the Nevada Gaming Commission on Wednesday to request an extension of his two-year limited license for holding a stake in MGM Resorts International. This comes after Diller yelled, “That’s not fair!” at a previous meeting with the commission two years ago.

In May 2022, the Nevada Gaming Commission granted Diller a temporary two-year license instead of a full one due to ongoing investigations into insider trading allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ).

Diller’s licensing was essentially a formality as a member of MGM’s board of directors. However, because it was limited, he had to go through the process again this year, with a hearing set before the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Wednesday and another appearance before the commission on March 16.

The Wall Street Journal revealed that Diller, along with fellow media magnate David Geffen and Diller’s stepchild Alex von Furstenberg, had purchased numerous shares in Activision Blizzard just days before Microsoft agreed to purchase the company with specialization in the making of video games for approx. $70B. This led to the initial decision to restrict Diller’s licence.

According to the Journal report, Activision’s stock price soared following news of the acquisition, resulting in about $59 million in unrealized profit for the trio on an options trade.

During last year’s hearing, Diller denied any wrongdoing, saying he would never put himself or his reputation at such risk for additional “resources” he didn’t need. He called it a coincidence and said he’d be willing to give back the shares, maintaining that ethical conduct has guided him throughout his life.

According to the gaming news, MGM legal counsel argued there were no allegations or findings of wrongdoing against Diller, pointing out that limited licenses typically imply concern about an individual’s behavior. Additionally, they gave tongue to the fears that a 2-year license could send a message about stability within Nevada’s licensing environment, which is the gold benchmark.

While some commissioners — like Rosa Solis-Rainey, who said “a gaming license is an exclusive right” — supported waiting for the results of the investigations before granting a full license, others — like Oganna Brown, who said “coincidences happen at a stretch” — saw no reason to impose conditions.

Ultimately, the commission stated that Diller will likely reapply for integral licensing once this matter is resolved with no allegations of wrongdoing.

Since last year’s hearing, there have been no new public details about investigations into Diller’s stock trades. Licensing is critical for MGM because IAC — where Diller is chairman and holds significant ownership (14% reported 24 months ago) — owns a large stake in the gaming company.

Diller founded Fox Broadcasting Company and USA Network and served as chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Paramount Pictures.

Joseph Watkins is an avid gambler and also contributes the in-depth & most recent Las Vegas casino news stories. He joins as a news-editor recently with almost two years of experience in sports news writing.

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