Louisiana Gaming Company Hit with Fine

Wednesday, January 26, 2000
Players International, Inc. will have to pay the state of Louisiana $10.2 million and sell its two Lake Charles riverboats for failing to report its dealings with pizza restauranteur Richard Shetler, who has admitted to funneling a total of $550,000 in cash and goods from Players to Edwin Edwards and his son Stephen as part of a four-year conspiracy to extort money from the riverboat company. The settlement with the Louisiana Gaming Board follows an investigation into allegations Players paid money under the table to help it secure a riverboat gaming license during the administration of former Governor Edwards. In a report released in August, 1999, Special Assistant Attorney General Raymond Lamonica concluded Players should be fined and stripped of its Louisiana gaming licenses. Lamonica said the $10.2 million payment is based on the profits Players expects to get from the Louisiana portion of its pending $422.8 million sale to Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. The sale also includes gaming boats in Illinois and Missouri. The settlement requires Players to sell its Lake Charles boats and get out of the gaming business in Louisiana within 150 days. At this point, Players has not been accused of any crimes, and Lamonica made it clear the case against Player is not an extension of the federal case against Edwards (28 counts of rackateering, conspiracy, extortion, money laundering and mail and wire fraud, with a trial slated for early 2000). Nevertheless, the penalty is reportedly the largest fine ever imposed on a U.S. casino company.

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