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Herbst mining for bucks in revitalized Searchlight

Dec 11, 2001 7:27 AM

Searchlight is on a roll these days as rerouted truck traffic streams through the tiny mining hamlet. So, capitalizing on the post-Sept. 11 closing of Hoover Dam to big rigs, Herbst Gaming Corp. is building a Terrible’s Town Casino on U.S. Highway 95.

The venture, approved by the State Gaming Control Board last week, will feature 75 slot machines ”” roughly doubling Searchlight’s current total. A market and a McDonald’s are also ticketed for the eight-acre building site.

The casino is the Herbst family’s fifth in Southern Nevada. Its E-T-T Gaming subsidiary, which purchased Jackpot Enterprises’ gaming operations for $38 million, operates 7,750 slot machines statewide.

Traffic counts on U.S. 95 through Laughlin are up substantially since Terror Tuesday, as commercial haulers running between Arizona and Nevada have been barred from using the U.S. 93 route that crosses Hoover Dam.

In other board action:

Herbst won approval for offering $170 million in Series B notes. The initial Series A offering in August exceeded projections by some $15 million.

— The Bourbon Street Casino on East Flamingo Road is getting a sports book. It will be operated as a satellite site out of the Reno-based Club Cal Neva.

Top Gun Gaming is partnering with Konami Gaming to develop a “Rock Around the Clock” slot. The Scottsdale, Ariz., designer, which also teamed with Bally Gaming to develop the Hollywood Betty slot, says it plans to move its offices to Nevada.

— Harold Holder received approval to purchase Sharkey’s Nugget in Gardnerville. The former Sears executive also has a stake in the Silver Club in Sparks, the El Capitan in Hawthorne and the Sundance in Winnemucca. Applying to operate the Model T truck stop in Winnemucca, Holder said, “We think we add to the economic structure of these communities.’’

— As expected, the board adopted a $1 million financial criteria requirement for play in Nevada’s new international gaming salons. Minimum wagers were set at $500. Citing a survey showing that the average bet at high-limit tables along the Strip runs between $60,000 and $140,000, board member Bobby Siller called the rule “more than fair.” Attorneys for MGM Mirage, which pushed for the new salons, agreed.

Final approval will come when the Gaming Commission meets later this month.