Gaming regulators in Nevada have apparently paused their review of a licensing application by media titan Barry Diller. On March 2, the Gaming Control Board approved Diller’s application for a 14 percent stake in MGM Resorts International. But that process was put on hold shortly thereafter, when it was announced that the billionaire was under investigation for possible insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department.
During a March 17 meeting, Nevada Gaming Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Togliatti said the matter would be taken up again at the April 21 meeting.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Diller, fellow entertainment mogul David Geffen and Diller’s stepson Alex von Furstenberg acquired a block of Activision Blizzard stock at $40 per share days before the video game maker agreed to be acquired by Microsoft for $68.7 billion. That transaction shot the stock price up to $95 per share, and the three men saw an unrealized profit of about $59 million on an options trade, according to CDC Gaming Reports.
Diller denies having advance information on the sale. As he told CNBC, “If we had any such information, we would never have traded on it—it strains credulity to believe we would have done so three days before Microsoft and Activision made their announcement.”
The Journal reported that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick met with von Furstenberg a week before the three men bought options to purchase Activision shares.
Diller said the meeting was purely social.
“We had zero knowledge of that transaction, and it belies credulity to think that if we did we would have proceeded,” he said. “It’s equally unlikely to believe Mr. Kotick, a sophisticated professional, in a social breakfast with Mr. von Furstenberg and his wife would have told them of the pending transaction.”