MGM Investor Barry Diller’s Nevada Gaming License Cleared After Federal Investigation 

Billionaire media mogul Barry Diller, 82, has this week been issued a full Nevada Gaming License. The license is needed as part of his responsibilities as a major shareholder in Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International.

Diller serves on MGM’s board of directors, and his company Interactive Corp also holds 20% of shares in the largest U.S. gambling operator. 

Diller has been on a restricted temporary license over the two years since he bought $405 million worth of shares in the MGM Grand and Cosmopolitan operator. 

That’s because he was under investigation from the federal Securities and Exchange Commission into possible insider trading. However, the regulator cleared Diller on all allegations in April of this year.

The Nevada Gaming Commission approved his license on Thursday, with a 4-1 vote in favor. 

“The process was very cumbersome in terms of records and all sorts of information that we supplied,” Diller said, speaking through a Zoom call to Thursday’s meeting. 

“I did one interview with government representatives and I think [they were] satisfied with the answers that I gave. I’m glad it’s finished.”

The Delay

Although Diller is not involved in the day to day operations of MGM, under Nevada law all individuals who own more than 5% of a publicly traded gambling operator in the state require a license. 

IAC, of which Diller is chairman and founder, is by far MGM’s largest outside investor and owns 20% of the company. 

IAC CEO Joey Levin has also been granted a Nevada gaming license, although he passed his checks with much less scrutiny. 

The delay to Diller’s license was due to allegations of insider trading from the SEC. Diller, his stepson Alexander von Furstenburg, and record industry impresario David Geffen were all implicated in a possible insider trading scheme on the huge $68.7 billion Microsoft takeover of Activision Blizzard. 

The three purchased millions in stock in Activision Blizzard just days before the takeover. Between them, they made some $60 million in profit on the nicely timed deal.

However, all three have remained adamant it was simply a coincidental stroke of luck. The SEC spent two years investigating the transactions, but eventually found no evidence of wrongdoing

Now, the Nevada gambling regulator has been freed to give Diller a license, which it has done. 

As well as his investments in MGM via IAC, Diller also has significant shares in Expedia, TripAdvisor, LiveNation, and Coca Cola. He began building his estimated $4 billion fortune while working at Fox Broadcasting and Paramount in the 1980s.

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