Mon, Dec 16, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Las Vegas casino developer will take bitcoins for mansion

AP, LAS VEGAS

A casino owner-turned-commercial developer is asking US$7.85 million for a Las Vegas home, and he is willing to accept the online currency bitcoin for the deal.

Jack Sommer said he got the idea to seek bitcoin for his 2,300m2 mansion from two of his sons, who have been involved in making and trading the currency.

“The advantage is that we’re expanding our market and adding some notoriety,” Sommer said.

Bitcoin peer-to-peer trading began in 2009. Value is purchased through an exchange Web site with a mainstream paper currency, such as dollars or euros, though trading is not government regulated.

Using the currency can streamline international business deals, said Julian Tosh, a consultant and owner of the marketplace Web site bitcoinsinvegas.com.

“There are a bunch of people who have bitcoins, and they’re dying for a place to spend it,” Tosh told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

He said Sommer’s willingness to accept bitcoin could open the home to a global audience.

“If you increase awareness of potential buyers, you could tap into new markets,” Tosh said.

Sommer has put a lot of work into the home in the posh Spanish Trail Country Club. It features marble from China, Iceland and Brazil, a full basement, staff quarters with Jacuzzis and a secret garden. It also has 39 air-conditioning zones fed by a 120 tonne cooling tower.

Library shelves are stainless steel clad in American cherry wood, and the view from the owner’s suite is of golf course fairways.

Sommer once owned the Aladdin resort, which is now the Planet Hollywood Resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

He said he and his wife, Laura, were downsizing now that their seven children have moved out.

Sommer’s sales agent, Craig Tann, of Prudential American Group’s Estates of Las Vegas team, said the home may be the first in southern Nevada to be marketed formally around bitcoin.

A range of businesses accept the currency. A California Lamborghini dealership sold a US$103,000 Tesla to a Florida man for 91.4 bitcoins, the Review-Journal reported, and a Canadian man listed his Alberta home for the bitcoin equivalent of US$405,000.

The currency hit a watermark when Bank of America Merrill Lynch said this month that one bitcoin could have a maximum value of US$1,300, or more than the price of an ounce of gold.

A bitcoin on Friday was valued at about US$870.

Tosh acknowledged the volatility in value could make a US$7.85 million bitcoin trade risky.

“Locking in a price for such a large transaction is going to be kind of difficult,” he said. “If the value is changing 30 percent a day, how do you quantify that in a contract and expect each side to hold on for 30 to 90 days while escrow clears?”

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