‘Timing is right’ for leaving Station, says Sartini

Jun 19, 2001 10:10 AM

There’ll soon be a new operator of Southwest Gaming Services, the area’s fourth-largest slot route operator, but he’ll not be a stranger to either the company or its operation.

The owner, Station Casinos Inc., will sell the slot route to Blake Sartini, Station’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. Following the acquisition, Sartini will leave his executive posts with Stations but will retain his seat on the company’s board of directors.

Also a director of the company is Sartini’s wife, Delise Fertitta Sartini.

Following the announcement that Sartini would end his 18 years of service with Station Casinos, he stated, "The timing is right for me to accept a new challenge, and as a co-founder of Southwest Gaming, I have always had a special interest in the slot route business.

"I am also leaving Station Casinos with a great management team in place and in a very solid position," he added.

The company’s executive team consists of Chairman and CEO Frank Fertitta III, son of the company’s founder, Frank Fertitta Jr. His brother, Lorenzo Fertitta, joined the company last year as president. Glenn Christenson is executive vice president, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer, and Craig Neilson is corporate counsel.

During Sartini’s 18 years with the company, he learned the business from the ground up, beginning as a floor man at Palace Station on West Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas. He held several posts before being named vice president of gaming operations in 1990. In 1993, he assumed the post of president of Nevada operations. In 1997, he was named chief operating officer.

On his watch, the company expanded from the single property on West Sahara to eight casinos surrounding the entire valley. Revenues have grown from $150 million per year to $850 million, and the company’s payroll from fewer than 2,000 to more than 12,000.

Speaking for the company, Frank Fertitta III said, "Blake has done a great job of guiding our operations through a period of incredible growth. His record speaks for itself. I look forward to continuing to working with him as a director and having his input on the strategic direction of the company."

The sale of the slot route will be a tax-free deal with Station swapping Southwest stock for Station stock owned by Sartini. The exchange is valued at $14 million. According to a filing with the SEC last month, Sartini holds 1,413,844 in his own name and shares voting and dispositive power with his wife on 5,809,041 shares.

Southwest Gaming has 80 accounts with approximately 900 slot and video poker machines.