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Colorado Officials Tell Casino to Cut Ties to Gansevoort Backer

Colorado gaming officials ordered a casino to discontinue a relationship with an investor who figured prominently in a Massachusetts licensing investigation of Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Big Jim’s Gambling Hall & Saloon in Cripple Creek, Colorado, was told to end its association with Arik Kislin by Dec. 20 or lose its license, according to minutes of a June 20 meeting of the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission. The decision was unrelated to the Massachusetts investigation, Brenda Davis, director of administration for Colorado’s division of gaming, said in an interview.

Kislin, an investor in Gansevoort Hotel Group, has been linked to various members of Eurasian organized crime by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a Massachusetts Gaming Commission report released on Oct. 23. Caesars dropped out of a proposed $1 billion resort in East Boston and ended a licensing deal to use the Gansevoort name on a remodeled hotel on the Las Vegas Strip after Massachusetts investigators recommended the company be denied a license in the state.

Kislin denies any relationship to organized crime, said Juda Engelmayer, a spokesman with 5W Public Relations. Big Jim’s hasn’t met performance targets, and as a result, Kislin didn’t want to pay for a casino license, he said in an Oct. 28 telephone interview. Kislin is looking to recover his investment in Big Jim’s, according to Engelmayer.

“No legal authority has ever accused him of any wrongdoing in connection with his businesses,” Engelmayer said in an e-mail. “The German court documents referenced in some media reports never mention Arik Kislin and never linked him to any criminal activity, and other reports are decades old, stemming from a time when Arik Kislin was in his early 20s and did business with individuals in the former Soviet Union.”

Colorado Application

Gansevoort’s flagship hotel is in New York’s Meatpacking District.

Katherine Gulotta, an FBI spokeswoman in Boston, had no comment yesterday.

James Druck, general manager of Big Jim’s and a minority investor, said in a telephone interview the casino had underperformed financially and that it was working to comply with the commission’s order.

“I’ve never met him, never spoken to him,” Druck said of Kislin, adding that he had “no opinion” on why Kislin didn’t seek a license.

Kislin, 45, lent money to the majority owner of a casino in Cripple Creek and considered applying for a gaming license in Colorado, according to the report from Massachusetts regulators.

Suitability Finding

Casinos in Colorado must report persons who lend money to them, and the director of the gaming commission may require those investors to supply information about their backgrounds and source of funds, Davis, the state gaming official, said in an e-mail.

The division asked Kislin to apply for a finding of suitability in the state and he elected not to, according to Davis, who described the request as standard procedure.

The commission, a five-member panel that supervises the state’s casino industry, then ordered Big Jim’s to “discontinue any and all business agreements with Mr. Kislin, including debt agreements,” she said.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission met yesterday to consider the license application of Suffolk Downs race track, Caesars’ former partner in the East Boston project.

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