Station buys from Gaughan

January 23, 2001 8:44 AM
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IS BIG BETTER? If you think so, take another look at Station Casinos (STN). The giant local gambling company has bought still another site to add to its army of Las Vegas properties. That makes nine in all.

The latest acquisition is a 30-acre tract of land in North Las Vegas on the Rancho Drive strip. The seller? Michael Gaughan. The price? About $10 million.

The 30 acres sits between Texas Station and Sky Harbor Airport. It’s the fifth property for Station along Rancho. Starting to the Fe and Fiesta, both new acquisitions. Then there’s Texas Station, the new tract and, finally, the Daddy of ‘em allPalace Station. Other STN Las Vegas properties include Boulder Station, Sunset Station, Wild Wild West and Barley’s.

Gaughan has his own local casino dynasty: The Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast and Barbary Coast. The Big Guy has already told about plans to spend $100 million-plus to expand The Orleans. Also, Suncoast and Gold Coast.

"Why not?" asked a rosebud. "The Strip properties are elbow to elbow. There seems to be little room for new growth. Not so in the locals market, even though there are plenty of buyers. Billionaire Carl Icahn has his arms around three local clubs — Stratosphere, Arizona Charlie’s West and Arizona Charlie’s East. And, according to good sources, he is looking for more properties to buy in Las Vegas — not necessarily in the locals market."

The Maloof family is going lickety-split building its new high-rise Palms. It sits on Flamingo Road, just across the street from the Gold Coast.

STN closed Monday at 143/4. Its 52-week high and low: 20 and 113/4.

DON’T ASK! A call to Bobby Baldwin to see who he likes in the Super Bowl was quite revealing.

"I have no opinion . . . none at all. I gave up betting sports back in 1973!" Baldwin explained.

Why 1973?

"I had a disastrous weekend betting football. I was watching games on two different TVs, had the radio on, and I lost all bets. That was it for me. Kaput!"

Although I didn’t ask and he didn’t tell, I’m certain that the president and CEO of Mirage Resorts Inc. (Bellagio, The Mirage, Treasure Island, Golden Nugget, Beau Rivage and half of the Monte Carlo) still enjoys a round of poker or two.

SMOKE & FIRE! A few weeks ago, it was reported that WMS Gaming (WMS) was a cinch to be eyeballing Mikohn Gaming Corp. (MIKNE). Although no one else sees the fire coming through the smoke, I do.

Why?

Now that Aristocrat has announced plans to buy Casino Data Systems (CDS), the pressure is on that WMS — desperately in need of a wide-area progressive system — will find Mikohn irresistible.

Consolidation is the marching song among casino game makers. International Game Technology (IGT) remains numero uno. Aristocrat moves up nicely into second place and, I think, WMS Gaming needs to make a move if it’s to stay in the race with the giants.

A FOGGY DAY in London Town! With the casino business in the fog in London, it seems as if the press there see plenty of doom and gloom. For instance, they reported over the weekend that London Clubs International (LCI) is having a tough time seeing their way out of doom, mainly because of fears that its Aladdin club in Las Vegas is hurting.

According to the Brits, rumors are flying that LCI lenders have agreed to relax certain covenants until April. Moreover, it was reported that Chairman Alan Goodenough might be taking a serious look at selling part of its 40% stake in the Las Vegas Strip property. However, Trevor Hemmings, major domo of Stanley Leisure, bought an "entirely friendly" 4.6% stake in LCI following its December slump.

Could Stanley Leisure be interested in a fire sale if one ever took place at LCI? Stay tuned.

CAJUN COMPRISING! "Louisiana legislators are going to tackle the New Orleans casino problem forthwith, before the situation becomes too complicated," stated our on-the-scene pipe.

"There have been so many fingers getting into the pie, the lawmakers are worried that time will run out and 3,000 people will lose their jobs. So, they are going to meet and cut in half the $100 million annual tax the state now gets.

"No, they won’t consider other gambling items such as dockside action being demanded by the riverboat operators or slot machines at the Fair Grounds Racetrack or the tax break the video slot route operators have been harping on.

"With so many submarine actions developing on the gaming front, the lawmakers thought they’d best move quickly. And they will!" reported the pipe.

ANOTHER SCORE! "Add another feather to Jim Murren’s cap now that he was successful in placing $400 million in bond debt with the financial community," said the Wall Street rosebud.

"You know, money has been hard to come by for many institutions, especially gaming companies, so for MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) to find the cash at a reasonable 83/8% can be credited as a score," she stated.

TROUBLE AT THE TOP? At the Pinnacle, that is: Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK). The company that was supposed to be acquired by Colony Capital before the sale fell through in late 2000 now has to deal with its new riverboat in Belterra, Ind.

According to reports, the riverboat lost over $4 million in the last quarter. For the month of December, revenues totaled only $5 million, said a source.

The reason for the poor business: the fierce competition coming from the likes of the Argosy Casino in Lawrenceburg and the Grand Victory in Rising Sun, Ind.

GOING UP! Ground has been broken for a 1,000-room-plus hotel-casino on Flamingo Road (east of Bally’s) to be built in two phases. The first includes a 716-room structure slated for completion this summer. The second phase, set to begin construction in April, will add 306 rooms, with a mid-December completion target.

The builder? Inland Empire.

When finished, the resort will also feature a 30,000 square-foot casino, gourmet restaurant, buffet and 24-hour coffee shop.

The target? Corporate clients.