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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke July 9, 2019

No evidence Nevada Gaming Commission said Donald Trump wasn’t trustworthy enough for gaming license

Ever wonder why Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas isn’t the "Trump Hotel & Casino," asks a recent Facebook post

"The Nevada Gaming Commission did not find Trump ‘trustworthy’ enough for a gaming license," it says. "Donald Trump — too shifty for Las Vegas."

The post, published on June 20, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

We reached out to the Nevada Gaming Commission for more information. Tony Alamo, the commission’s chairman, called the post’s claims "a viral misconception on the internet."

"President Trump has, in fact, been found suitable to be involved in gaming in Nevada," Alamo said. 

In 2004, Trump filed an application and "submitted to an investigation into his background in relation to his ownership interest in the Riviera Hotel & Casino," Alamo said. "Both the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously to approve Trump’s application for suitability as a shareholder (individually and by and through his companies), with just over 10% ownership interest, in the Riviera Holdings Corporation." 

A 2004 Las Vegas Review-Journal article explains gaming regulators required Trump and his companies — Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. and the THCR Holding Corp. — to secure a license after he purchased 358,000 shares of Riviera Holdings Corp., the parent company of what was then the Riviera Hotel and Casino. That purchase, the article says, put him over the threshold requiring an investigation and licensure by the state’s gaming regulators. (Alamo said Trump sold his interest in the Riviera later that year.)   

Dennis Neilander, then the Gaming Control Board’s chairman, called the applications "very clean" and said he was impressed with the backgrounds of some of Trump’s personnel, according to the Review-Journal.

In 2016, Harry Reid, the former Senate minority leader, told the Washington Post that Trump "couldn’t get a license."

"No question about it," the paper quotes Reid as saying. "Not a chance. I may not be an expert on a lot of stuff but I’m an expert on gaming licenses. You can’t have filed 14 bankruptcies, cheat people out of stuff. In gaming circles, if somebody does something bad once, you can’t get a gaming license. He’s done something bad his whole life." 

But the Post reporter, Ben Terris, pushes back here. 

"Reid is not exactly correct here," Terris writes. "Trump earned a license in 2004 but he hasn’t acted on it. Reid claimed that he has talked to the commissioner, and that if Trump were to try to build one now, he wouldn’t be able to." 

Terris links to this Snopes fact-check of the exact same image in the Facebook post. The hoax-debunking outlet then identified one possible source for the claim: a 1987 New York Times article about Trump’s effort to gain control of the Bally Manufacturing Corporation, a rival casino operator in Atlantic City. The story says: 

"Mr. Trump recently applied for a Nevada casino license, but Paul Bible, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission at the time, said that Nevada regulators would look askance at any ‘greenmailer’ who hurts casino companies in Nevada by acquiring large quantities of stock in order to sell the stake back to the company at a premium."

In court filings, Trump’s lawyers denied that he had invested in Bally to sell to the company at a premium, according to the Times. "Mr. Trump has never been, and is not presently, a greenmailer or corporate raider," the filings said.

In spite of such conflicts, though, we found no evidence that the Nevada Gaming Commission didn’t find Trump "trustworthy" enough for a gaming license, as the Facebook post claims. We searched Nexis news archives for evidence that the commission called Trump untrustworthy and came up empty. Plus, the commission’s chairman told PolitiFact that the allegation is a "viral misconception," and that Trump has been deemed suitable to be involved in gaming in the state. 

We rate this post False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, June 20, 2019

Las Vegas Review-Journal, "With Nevada gaming license in hand, Donald Trump hopes to do something spectacular in Las Vegas," Feb. 5, 2004

The Washington Post, "‘I hate palm trees’: The sentimental journey of Harry Reid," Sept. 14, 2016

Snopes, "Did the Nevada Gaming Commission deny Trump a casino license?" Feb. 29, 2016

The New York Times, "Trump ends his struggle to gain control of Bally," Feb. 23, 1987

Associated Press, "Donald Trump approved for state gaming license," Feb. 19, 2004

Email interview with Tony Alamo, chairman, Nevada Gaming Commission, July 4, 2019


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No evidence Nevada Gaming Commission said Donald Trump wasn’t trustworthy enough for gaming license

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