Penn National sets sights on mid-Strip casino?

May 5, 2009 5:03 PM
Gaming Insider by Phil Hevener |

Peter Carlino is very tired of the speculation that continues to link his Penn National Gaming with a number of Las Vegas resorts. It’s getting in the way of business, he says, and besides, is mostly incorrect. Stories, that may have once had an element of truth have been recently based on an assortment of outdated facts and have done nothing to help the company get the one Las Vegas Strip casino it wants.

Penn certainly has the financial muscle to manage a purchase but the hopes that might have once existed for acquiring one of the top drawer Las Vegas properties belonging to either Harrah’s or MGM Mirage, have mostly faded because of what Carlino sees as a "giant disconnect" among current owners of the frontline hotels and casinos.

Translation: Las Vegas owners want a lot more money than the Penn analysis suggests their properties are worth.

So let’s move to Plan B.

It’s a better bet Penn ends up acquiring one of the so-called middle market Strip properties, perhaps even something like the Sahara or Riviera. The latter two are a much better fit with the current Penn demographics and either would serve the important goal of giving the company a single Las Vegas Strip address it can use to whet the appetites of its increasing number of players club members.

What Penn could bring to either one of these troubled properties, or to any casino that currently lacks a strong national image, is a ready-made database. Carlino’s point is that the company does not necessarily need the nicest, newest or biggest casino.

Its current business plan will work very nicely on the Strip at any one of a number of places.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Phil Hevener