updated 4/5/2007 4:49:03 PM ET 2007-04-05T20:49:03

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. shareholders approved a $17.1 billion buyout Thursday by two private equity groups in the largest deal ever to take a publicly held casino company private, officials said.

Harrah’s announced that shareholders controlling 66 percent of outstanding stock approved the transaction.

The deal still requires approval from gambling regulators in more than a dozen states and several tribal nations where Harrah’s operates, said Frank Schreck, a Las Vegas lawyer who represents the company in regulatory matters.

Nevada gambling regulators could be asked to take up the question this fall, Schreck said.

The shareholder vote was tallied after a 10-minute meeting attended by about 100 shareholders that was closed to the public.

The buyer is a group controlled by Apollo Management Group of New York City and Texas Pacific Group, based in Fort Worth, Texas. Representatives of both companies declined immediate comment.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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