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Venetian Casino Host to Keep Job  

 
Venetian Casino Host to Keep Job  
Venetian Casino Host to Keep Job
11 August 2005


by Cy Ryan

By Our Partners at the Las Vegas Sun

CARSON CITY -- A Las Vegas casino host, who was president of a Midwestern slot distributor linked to criminal activity in the early 1990s, isn't going to get a state gaming license but will be able to keep his job at the Venetian.

After a nearly-four-hour hearing, the state Gaming Control Board Wednesday voted to refer the application of Jeffrey A. Ross back to its staff and not take a vote whether Ross should be licensed as a key employee as vice president of player development.

Ross was president and chief executive officer of the publicly-traded International Game Management, which supplied slot machines to Indian casinos.

The federal government accused the company and two of its executives of racketeering charges, including money laundering, illegal shipment of slot machines and other allegations.

Ross was never indicted and testified for the prosecution in the trial of Jerry Polinsky, the major stockholder in IGM. Polinsky was convicted.

Ross said he never knew about the criminal activities, including Polinsky giving kickbacks to the head of one of the Indian tribes. Ross maintained he was hired to get financing for video lottery and poker devices in Louisiana.

He conceded, under persistent questioning by board members, that he was in over his head as president and chief executive officer of IGM. But he insisted: "I was not guilty of anything."

Ross told the board that when he learned of Polinksy's activities, he forced him out of the company. But then Polinsky returned and forced Ross out, Ross said.

The three-members of the control board had a hard time believing that Ross didn't know what was going on. Board member Bobby Siller told Ross, "I don't buy your naivete. I think you knew something was going on."

Board Chairman Dennis Neilander told Ross that in the "best light" he was "bamboozled" by Polinsky and was a "straw man" in leading the company. In the "worst light," Neilander said Ross turned a blind eye to the criminal activity.

Board member Mark Clayton said he could not vote for a license for Ross, echoing the sentiments of the other two members.

Neilander suggested that the application be referred by to staff so no vote would be taken. And he said Ross could continue to work in his present job. He said Ross was in a low-ranking position and is subject to supervision.

The board had called Ross forward for licensing. Ross gained strong support from executives at the Venetian who said he has a good reputation in the casino industry.

The board said that if Ross gets promoted then it may reopen the application.

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