Tim Poster Nevada Gaming Commission

Former Golden Nuggett owner Tim Poster  –  shown here in his younger and thinner days – probably wasn’t quite this jubilant at his recent licensing suitability meeting in Carson City, Nevada (Image: piclookers.com)

UPDATED December 18, 2013:

It looks like Tim Poster has indeed filed an appeal regarding his recent suitability hearing with the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Word is that he is gunning for the reversal in his favor (which would still keep him unable to obtain an actual gaming license per se) so that he can return to his former position as chief operating officer of the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel and Casino on the Strip.

The Nevada Attorney General says Poster will need a simple majority approval from the commissioners if he is to reverse their prior 3-0 vote that took place on Dec. 4.

He will have to achieve that with just four of the five commissioners present, as John Moran Jr. will be recused; his son, J.T. Moran III, is acting as one of Poster’s attorneys. Isn’t it ironic.

It’s anticipated that Poster will come back at some of the allegations made against him during the lengthy hearing that took place in Carson City; but the former Golden Nugget owner will likely have his work cut out for him combatting issues raised that included concealing evidence and a past relationship with strip club owner Rick Rizzolo, who’s alleged to have Mafia connections.

Without the suitability designation, Poster can only continue working as a consultant in the gaming industry.

Ah, the good ol’ days, when having Mafia hookups in Vegas were all you needed to succeed. Those days seem to be long in the rear-view mirror, and now the tables have turned, as regulators everywhere are getting very persnickety about the slightest hint of a semblance of a relationship with anyone shady at any time in your past if you happen to be seeking casino licensing now.

Of course, we’ve seen much evidence of this viewpoint in Massachusetts of late with their regulatory body, but Nevada commissioners can be just as tough when they want to be. And unfortunately for former Golden Nugget owner and presumably soon-to-be-former Wynn Resorts Ltd. executive Tim Poster, they wanted to be at last week’s suitability hearing regarding him getting a casino license.

Of course , as it turned  out, Poster’s alleged connections with mob-related figures were the least of his problems.

Not Suitable for Much

Mind you, this hearing was only to determine suitability, not even an actual attempt to obtain a Nevada gaming license per se. And it quickly spiraled into a pillorying of sorts for this casino magnate bad boy and his former “friends”.

Specifically, the Nevada commissioners were not too excited about the 45-year-old Poster’s past interactions with former strip club owner and reported mob affiliate Rick Rizzolo, with his having allegedly hidden pertinent information from the commish, with his alleged sports betting online, or with his reputed dealings acting as an agent for an unnamed offshore Internet sports book.

We can hear the stockade clanging shut as we write this.

Of course, with all these controversial issues to deal with, Nevada Control Board member Terry Johnson said the regulators never even got around to Poster’s alleged tax evasion drama.

You can probably see by now where this is going.

“I’m not in favor of this application,” said Board member Shawn Reid as the hearing moved along. “A withdrawal or a referral back to staff doesn’t do it for me.”


Not  Totally Put Out to Pasture

But there was a slight glimmer of a silver lining on this stormy sky of a meeting: Poster will still be allowed to work in gaming, as long as it’s in some kind of consulting capacity that doesn’t require actual licensing. After all, the Board could have dropped the guillotine and ended his casino career entirely with an out-and-out denial.

So, now what?

Well, Poster has the option to appeal the Board’s decision – he has until December 19 to do so – but as he would then need a unanimous vote to overturn last week’s ruling, it seems unlikely he would submit himself to that level of additional humiliation.

Besides, Team Poster has probably already left the building; the Carson City meeting showed pretty strong backing from industry luminaries such as Ultimate Gaming chairman Tom Breitling; his business partner Lorenzo Fertitta (whose resume includes dazzling bullet points like owning the Ultimate Fighting Championship, aka UFC, as well as being co-owner of both Stations Casinos and its online presence, UltimatePoker); and former Wynn Resorts Ltd. exec Marc Schorr, among others. But none of them could save this sinking ship, whom many would say threw its own anchor overboard with previous unsavory actions that were bound to come to light.

Not only did Poster admit he placed illegal sports bets with offshore (i.e., unregulated) betting sites, he put the bullet in his own head by adding that he hadn’t realized there was anything wrong with doing so. And just to make sure his regulatory death sentence was assured, he also admitted to heavy wagering on sites that were tied to Pinnacle Sports, whose owners were indicted in New York State in 2012 for illegal Internet activities. But wait, it gets worse; some of those indicted were also Wynn and Encore high-rollers during Poster’s tenure as an executive there, which couldn’t have looked good at all. Poster was hoping to reclaim that job by passing the suitability finding; he had a better chance of becoming president of the United States in 2016 once it was asserted that at least one of those whales had placed bets with Poster.

You might think this regulatory hearing couldn’t have gone any further south after that, but it did. When Board member Johnson queried Poster as to whether or not he thought he had a gambling problem, Poster replied, “I haven’t stopped gambling since this happened. I enjoy it. It’s something I do for recreation. Am I a problem gambler? No. Does it cause problems in my life? No.”

Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, as they say. Poster admitted to betting $100K on just one big football weekend, and said Pinnacle still owes him about $800K. We’d suggest not holding your breath on ever seeing that money, Mr. Poster. He even acted as a kind of sports book go-between for friends and betting sites, getting what he called “rebates” but what most of us would refer to as “kickbacks.”

Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett – who we can only imagine must have been stupefied that a man who had worked this high up in the industry could possibly be this stupid and naive – chided Poster.

“At some point, you should have said to yourself, ‘I shouldn’t be doing this,’ ” Burnett said.

Even Poster’s attorneys could not save him from the gaming firing squad.

“Tim has made a mistake, a mistake he admitted to and never shied away from,” argued lead attorney Mark Clayton. “Tim has learned, and this is never going to be repeated.”

Really? Cause it sure doesn’t sound like it.

We could go on, cause there was more, but this is only a one-hour soap opera series.