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SAN DIEGO-A local Indian tribe signed an agreement with a Nevada gaming interest to reverse a casino development effort that has plunged it into debt.

The 350-member San Pasqual Indian band formed the $30 million agreement with Siren Gaming, whose top players turned the Rio Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas into one of the city’s most successful resorts.

Siren President John Lipkowitz, the former general manager of Rio, co-founded the new company in 2000 and the San Pasqual band is its first client. Rio owner Anthony Marnell, who sold the hotel-casino to Harrah’s in 1999 for $525 million, is the new company’s chief investor.

Marnell also co-owns a construction company that built the Rio and other famous Vegas resorts, including The Mirage, Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace and Treasure Island.

In April 2000, the San Pasqual band announced plans for the county’s most ambitious casino project, a $180 million resort that opened as the a much-smaller $40 million project a year with 750 slot machines and 12 blackjack tables.

For the last year, the casino has struggled to compete with three other new ones nearby, forcing it to lay off 80 of its 640 workers. At the same time, San Pasqual is struggling to pay off startup loans to its partner, a business arm of Louisiana’s Tunica-Biloxi tribe and another lender. The partnership, once heralded as the first between Indian tribes for the financing of a casino, disintegrated into allegations and finger pointing.

Siren’s participation is contingent upon San Pasqual’s three main creditors’ agreement to a restructuring of the tribe’s debt, which totals as much as $45 million.

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