Will Penthouse’s Las Vegas Casino Plan Get the Green Light?

LAS VEGAS — Penthouse CEO Marc Bell made headlines last weekend after he proclaimed to a Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter that he plans to buy a “significant property” on the Strip and join the casino wars.

“We’re looking to make a presence, take something and clean it up and fix it up and give it a new image,” said Bell, noting that casino dealers could be stocked with models from the magazine.

“We have no intention to rebrand the name of the hotel,” he said. “We would like to see a Penthouse casino presence and a Penthouse pool presence.”

At the time, Bell offered no clue as to how Penthouse would pay for a hotel and casino.

Privately held Penthouse, which still hasn’t announced an initial public offering it hinted about last March, could possibly swing a deal for a Las Vegas property.

The adult entertainment giant significantly expanded its empire when it purchased Various in a cash-and-stock deal for $500 million last December. Various owns and operates AdultFriendFinder.com and dozens of other social-networking sites.

Or the Penthouse chief could possibly tap into funds from another company he has a stake in.

Enterprise Acquisition Corp., which went public last year and trades on the American Stock Exchange, also is helmed by Bell, who acts as chairman of the board and treasurer. Its CEO and president is Daniel Staton, who purchased Penthouse Media Group properties with Bell for $52 million four years ago.

Enterprise Acquisition is a “blank check” entity formed for the purpose of acquiring companies. The company, which has $251 million in stockholder equity, shares its address with Penthouse corporate offices in Boca Ratan, Fla.

Its first deal, announced in late September, was a $669 million merger with Workflow Management Inc., a print and promotional products company based in Dayton, Ohio. That deal is expected to close in March.

Bell did not respond to numerous calls this week by XBIZ for response on whether he seriously will attempt to crack the Las Vegas market, which is slowly adding adult entertainment brands to its marquees.

Playboy has an exclusive club and gambling salon at Palms. Hustler, which is building a topless bar near the Strip, has been actively shopping for a Vegas casino since April, according to reports. And Penthouse already has its name licensed on a topless bar near the Strip.

In his interview with the Review-Journal, Bell said any initiative of operating a resort in Nevada with an unrestricted gaming license would be based on innovation and originality.

“It’s about rethinking the way of how people think of casinos in Las Vegas, coming in with a new paradigm. Everyone tries doing cookie cutters, doing the same thing over and over again, and we believe it’s time to create a new widget,” he said.

“I would have to imagine at some point we would be able to, as entertainment gets more risque on the Strip, as Vegas gets more back to its roots.”