Gaming commission approves Neighbors as Nugget president

File photoThe Carson Nugget opened on Carson Street in 1957.

File photoThe Carson Nugget opened on Carson Street in 1957.

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Steve Neighbors won approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday to take over operation of the casino, the Hop and Mae Adams Trust and the foundation that will eventually own all of the Nugget property.

Commissioners raised questions about the unusual structure of the plan, which has the casino owned by a trust that has no living beneficiaries.

"There is no living person who is beneficiary of that trust at this time, no individual who will be benefiting from this trust," said Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard.

He asked who the board should hold responsible for proper management of the casino.

"I'm the one responsible for the trust," said Neighbors.

Neighbors said he would be president of the Nugget corporation and executive director of the trust as well as a member of the Adams foundation's board of directors. The second foundation director is Andy MacKenzie of the Allison MacKenzie law firm. Neighbors said the third director has yet to be named.

Neighbors said he was brought in to consult on the operation of the Nugget in 2007 by co-owner Mae Adams, who has since died, "because the Nugget was failing."

He said the casino operation is again profitable and that he is continuing to clean up problems with its operation.

He said the goal is to put money back into the Nugget to upgrade it and that, once it is running smoothly and profitably, to sell it. The profits would be transferred to the non-profit foundation Mae Adams created to benefit Carson City.

The other land in the downtown owned by the family would also transfer to the foundation, which would use money from leases as well as the Nugget sale to make gifts and grants in the capital.

Neighbors said the reason for transferring assets from the estate of Betty Adams and the Alan Adams trust into the Hop and Mae Adams Trust is to consolidate ownership of Carson Nugget Inc. and the family's other property.

He said that will enable the trust and the foundation to help move forward on the downtown redevelopment plan being put together with the city.

Once all that is accomplished, he said, the foundation's purpose "is to be a blessing to the community of Carson City."

Commissioner John Moran said while he was a bit uncomfortable with the lack of a living beneficiary to the trust, he was satisfied with Neighbors' credentials and commitment to the plan.

The commission voted unanimously with member Joe Brown abstaining to approve the restructuring of the trusts and licensing for Neighbors to run the hotel/casino as well as the trust.

The commission approval removes the Adams family name from the Nugget gaming license for the first time in more than 50 years. Hop and Howard Adams took over the casino in the mid-1950s from Dick Graves, who moved to Sparks to open the Nugget there in partnership with John Ascuaga.


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