Monday, July 31, 2006

Surprise: Lauth And Cook Are Feuding

The Orange Co. Circuit Judge unsealed court records today in the lawsuit brought by the Cook Group against its Blue Sky casino partner, Lauth Property Group, because the law says he must. And we learn that the two are fighting over control of the casino, Cook claiming that Lauth forfeited one-half of its 50 percent stake in the casino when it failed to meet a deadline for lining up its financing--just as we reported last month.

But fear not, Daniels' newly-appointed Gaming Commission Chairman William Barrett says the Commission is probing the matter and is completely on top of the matter. “We plan and expect the French Lick project to open on time,” Barrett told the Indianapolis Star. Never mind that the matter was completely brushed over by the Commission's Executive Director Earnest Yelton at its last public meeting. Having dealt with Mr. Barrett in a litigation matter in the past, his comments are as reassuring as if they came from a fox guarding a henhouse. So much for aiming higher with this appointment Gov. Daniels.

UPDATE: The Star's J.K. Wall has more details about the dispute. He indicates the dispute boils down to Lauth's claim that Bill Cook insists on spending too lavishly on the project, while Cook believes Lauth is treating the project "as if they were building a Best Buy or Home Depot." Personally, I have to side with Bill Cook. This project would not have been possible without his tireless efforts over the years to restore the French Lick Springs Resort and West Baden Springs Hotel to their former grandeur--an important historic preservation project for the state. He is said to have dropped up to $100 million into this project. Lauth's personal investment has been a drop in the bucket by comparison. Lauth's personal attacks against Cook in its lawsuit are quite offensive when you consider it wouldn't have had a seat at the table but for the good grace of Cook. It sounds like Cook's attorneys have it right: Bob Lauth is "greedy."

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