UPDATED with approval: The Nevada Gaming Commission has approved a limited license for MGM Resorts International shareholder Barry Diller to work in the state’s casino industry after probing the billionaire IAC chairman and former media mogul about a federal investigation into his purchases of shares of Activision Blizzard.
IAC has a 14% stake in MGM Resorts. Diller and IAC’s CEO Joey Levin are on the board. Diller, his stepson Alexander von Furstenberg and David Geffen reportedly acquired stock in the videogame giant right before it was acquired by Microsoft early this year, boosting the stock. Diller has said he had no knowledge of the upcoming deal.
According to the WSJ, the commission voted 4-1 to approve Diller for a two-year license while the investigation is pending, rather than granting him a full license.
PREVIOUSLY: The Nevada Gaming Commission today sent IAC Chairperson Barry Diller and CEO Joey Levin’s gambling license applications back to the Nevada Gaming Control Board for “further fact finding and investigation”.
The decision by the Nevada gambling regulator comes in the wake of federal prosecutors and the SEC investigating Diller, Alexander von Furstenberg and David Geffen who reportedly made an unrealized $60 million profit on an Activision Blizzard options trade days before the videogame label w Microsoft on Jan. 18.
An IAC rep in an email response to Deadline said, “Mr. Diller’s license application was not rejected; the matter was simply delayed. We expect no issues with respect to Mr. Diller’s application nor IAC’s.”
The decision to delay Diller’s license application was made by Nevada Gaming Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Togliatti in a public meeting which also aired live on YouTube. Applications will be put off until an April board meeting.
Prominent casino shareholders and executives must be licensed to operate in Nevada’s gambling industry. The Nevada Gaming Control Board investigates the backgrounds of such folks. The entire process is meant to prevent corruption and criminal activity in the state’s gambling circle. IAC’s involvement with MGM Resorts is to help propel the casino in the online gambling sector.
Diller, Geffen and von Furstenberg bought options to acquire shares in Activision at $40 apiece, when the video game developer and publisher’s stock was trading at about $63. Their profit was reaped when Activation share prices were around $80 according to the Wall Street Journal‘s report.
At the time of the report on March 8, Diller confirmed that he is under investigation by DOJ, and told WSJ that none of the three men had private information about the looming merger. “It was simply a lucky bet,” he told WSJ. “We acted on no information of any kind from anyone. It is one of those coincidences.”
Jill Goldsmith contributed to this report
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