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CARSON CITY, NV-The state’s Gaming Control Board this week voted to recommend the acquisition of the Sands Regent by privately held Herbst Gaming. The $148-million merger agreement was announced in May. A clerk with the board tells GlobeSt.com the recommendation will be reviewed by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Dec. 21.

Sands Regent is a publicly traded company that owns and operates a total of four gaming properties, all in Nevada. Those properties are the Sands Regency Casino and Hotel in Downtown Reno; Gold Ranch Casino and RV Resort in Verdi; Rail City Casino in Sparks; and the Depot Casino and the Red Hawk Sports Bar in Dayton.

Herbst Gaming owns eight casinos, each of which carries the company’s “Terrible’s” brand. Five of the casinos are in Nevada and the others are in Missouri and Iowa. If the Sands Regent merger and a more recently announced acquisition from MGM Mirage are completed on schedule, the company’s casino count will nearly double sometime during the first quarter.

In November, Herbst agreed to acquire for $400 million all three of MGM’s casino-resorts in the Primm Valley, which is located 40 miles south of Las Vegas on the California border. The properties are named Buffalo Bill’s, Primm Valley and Whiskey Pete’s. Together, three properties total 2,644 guest rooms, 136,000 sf of casino space, three gas stations and a convenience store on 143 acres.

The Gaming Control Board also recommended the $27.5-million sale of the Silver Nugget and Opera House in North Las Vegas to Southern Nevada real estate investor and businessman Jeffrey Fine. Brian Greenspun, publisher of the Las Vegas Sun, is the uncle of Fine’s father, Mark Fine, who at one time ran Greenspun family’s development arm.

The board also voted to recommend Tom Celani as the operator of the Cal-Neva casino on Lake Tahoe’s north shore, which used to be owned by Frank Sinatra. Celani, who has held 20 gambling licenses but none in Nevada, is leasing the resort for $500,000 a year. He reportedly plans to invest $7 million to upgrade the asset and promote its “Rat Pack” history.

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