Billionaire’s deal for old Frank Sinatra casino at Lake Tahoe in doubt over red tape

  • 91 year old Lake Tahoe Casino has been closed since 2013
  • Billionaire Larry Ellison may pull out of the $35.8 million purchase

The long-running saga surrounding Frank Sinatra’s old casino may be about to take another twist, as the latest potential buyer for the property has reportedly threatened to pull out.

Frank Sinatra's old casino could be sold, but it appears the transition is not going to be a smooth one.
Frank Sinatra’s old casino could be sold, but it appears the transition is not going to be a smooth one.

Federal bankruptcy officials have warned that billionaire and founder of Oracle Corp., Larry Ellison, might back away from a deal to buy the Cal Neva Resort on Lake Tahoe on the border of Nevada and California.

The purchase, which is believed to be worth $35.8 million, has been delayed for over a month, and according to reports in local media, Ellison may be running out of patience.

The 91-year-old casino on the north short of Lake Tahoe has been closed since 2013 and is in need of extensive refurbishment, according to reports.

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The property’s latest owner – a development firm called Criswell Radovan – was in the process of carrying out a $49 million refit but then placed the casino into bankruptcy proceedings last year.

Ellison’s personal investment vehicle, Lawrence Investments won approval from the bankruptcy court in October to purchase the property. But days later, the sale was halted by Cal Neva creditors who launched a formal protest, and at the end of October, it was halted altogether by a federal judge, in order for the protests to be heard.

Casino licence

The Cal Neva Resort was built in 1926 but was purchased by Sinatra in 1960 and became famous as a playground for the singer and fellow entertainers Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Sinatra lost his casino licence when an FBI agent identified Chicago gangster Frank Giancana at the property, and the Cal Neva was sold in 1963.

One Tahoe official expressed his disappointment that the Ellison takeover might not go ahead. Tom Lotshaw of the Regional Planning Agency that approved the original Criswell Radovan refurbishment plans lamented the fact that the work would be further delayed.

“We would love to see that work continue. “It would have … revitalized it significantly, breathed some new life into the Crystal Bay area,” he said.

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