Reno’s Siena casino seeks bankruptcy protection
Associated Press Writer
A Reno casino avoided the possible suspension of its gambling license over delinquent casino taxes and fees by filing for bankruptcy protection.
Lawyers for the Siena Hotel Spa Casino said the company, Wild Game LLC, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition late Wednesday in the Northern District of California.
The filing came the night before the Nevada Gaming Commission planned to consider the fate of the hotel-casino that employs about 300 people on the banks of the Truckee River in downtown Reno.
By filing for bankruptcy protection, the Siena, owned by California businessman Barney Ng, now falls under the jurisdiction of the federal court and can remain open while it tries to restructure its debts.
On July 1, commissioners suspended the casino’s gambling license for not maintaining enough bankroll to pay winnings and for falling delinquent on $153,000 in taxes, but they immediately stayed the suspension so the casino could keep operating under strict conditions.
The Siena had until Thursday to make good on its tax obligations. Under state law, a nonrestricted license is automatically deemed surrendered if tax obligations are three months behind.
Siena attorney Matthew Kelly said management was continuing talks with other gambling license holders, including the downtown Club Cal Neva, about taking over its gambling operations.
The 214-room casino-hotel laid off 35 employees and closed its table games in June.
But delinquent casino taxes are not the property’s only financial troubles.
The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority said the Siena has four months of delinquent room taxes totaling $140,000 and gave it a year to pay or else it will lose its lodging license.
The casino also owes $400,000 to NV Energy, and under a separate agreement must pay $50,000 every two weeks to keep the lights on.
Siena officials blamed the property’s financial troubles on previous management. Current managers say they inherited debts and a default notice in December on a $50 million loan from Bar-K Inc. of Lafayette, Calif.
Ng said earlier that he wanted to avoid filing for bankruptcy because it would cast a stigma and sound the “death knell” of the property.