Jun 17, 2001 8:33 PM

Station Casinos' chief operating officer is stepping down to take over the company's slot route operations.

The company announced that Blake L. Sartini will buy the slot route subsidiary, Southwest Gaming Services, in a stock-for-stock deal worth about $14 million. The sale is expected to close by year-end, pending regulatory approvals, the company said.

Southwest is the fourth-largest slot route operation in Nevada with about 80 accounts, most of those restricted licensees in Las Vegas.

During Sartini's tenure as an executive vice president and COO, the popular Las Vegas chain of residential casinos grew from a single property with $150 million in annual revenues to a public company with seven casinos, approximately $850 million in revenues and 12,000 employees.

Sartini, whose 18-year career with Station began as a floor man at Palace Station, will continue as a member of the board of directors and a substantial shareholder of the company.