Barry Diller Wins Unrestricted Nevada Gaming License Amid SEC Investigation Closure

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In a landmark move, Barry Diller, chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp (IAC), has successfully earned an unrestricted Nevada gaming license. The decision was reached after a vote by the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC), with a 4-1 majority favoring for the grant of the license to Diller.

The news concludes an intricate tale that had spanned over two years during which Diller had been operating under a restricted license. This was imposed as a consequence of a federal inspection into allegations of Diller possibly engaging in insider trading that concerned contracts on a video game publisher, Activision Blizzard, before an impressive $68.7 billion take-over bid by Microsoft.

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Diller was a subject of interest for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alongside his stepson, Alexander von Furstenberg, and David Geffen, a fellow titan in the entertainment industry. The SEC’s inquisition led the NGC to firstly offer Diller a restricted license. However, the scene has dramatically shifted today as the SEC brought a closure to its investigation a fortnight ago, allowing the Nevada regulators to reconsider Diller’s licensing standing in the nation’s leading gaming state.

Diller attended the meeting with NGC to accept his license remotely from New York, through a session on Zoom.

As simple as it may sound, Diller requires a Nevada license despite not being routinely engaged in the operational aspects of a casino in Nevada. He is mandated to hold a license as IAC/InterActiveCorp is the principal stakeholder in MGM Resorts International. In fact, as per IAC CEO Joey Levin’s first-quarter investor note, the firm currently owns 20% of MGM shares, hence emerging as the predominant investor in the gambling company. Based on Nevada’s statutes, any external investor that gains control of 5% or a higher margin of openly traded gaming businesses rooted in the state is obligated to be licensed.

Diller’s presentation seemed to have won over the NGC commissioners, who delivered enthusiastic support in favor of granting him the unrestricted license. “You’re eminently qualified. Serving on the Coca-Cola board and others, you have experience that very few people have. Good for MGM to have you on the board,” declared Commissioner Brian Krolicki during the Thursday confluence.

Amid all the support, dissenting opinions arose from Commissioner Rosa Solis-Rainey who harbored reservations regarding the possibility of the SEC resuming its insider trading investigation. In such a case, she highlighted, NGC would be compelled to mull over revoking Diller’s license. “I wish there was a way to give him a non-restricted license with some caveat that if there’s any settlement or prosecution, he comes before us again,” she mused.

However, other commissioners agreed that IAC’s continuous investing in MGM, and its non-controversial stance appeared to be satisfactory. Especially, as August marks the four-year anniversary of IAC’s MGM shares purchasing initiative. Additionally, with the Bellagio operator leading prolific share repurchases, IAC has solidified its position as the largest investor in the casino behemoth, much to the NGC’s approval. NGC Chair Jennifer Togliatti lauded Diller for his candid testimony, noting his inherent eligibility for such a license.