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Casino Deals Put on Hold

The five-member Illinois Gaming Board has had only two sitting members since August, leaving it without the necessary quorum to do business. The governor has yet to fill the vacancies, despite pleas from the remaining members.

Even so, MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said, "We've been working with staff to find a way to make this transaction receive permission under the conditions that they now face. We're confident of our ability to close." Although Feldman declined to specify what solutions it was considering, analysts have speculated that Mandalay would be able to place its Grand Victoria casino in Illinois into a trust until the commission is fully staffed again.

A similar problem could develop in Indiana, which could delay the Harrah's merger. A majority of members of the state's gaming commission recently offered their resignations to Mitch Daniels, the new governor, who is trying to purge regulatory bodies.

Harrah's spokesman Thompson acknowledged that if the commission loses its quorum, it could delay Indiana's decision on the merger. "We are monitoring that situation, and the governor has so far not accepted the resignation of any of the regulators. We're still optimistic of getting the deal consummated, hopefully in May."

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