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Sartini to buy casino

May 18, 2004 6:18 AM

Las Vegas-based Golden Gaming announced last week it that will purchase the Mardi Gras Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado.

The Mardi Gras Casino, currently owned by the Magness Investment Group, contains about 700 slot and video poker machines, nine blackjack and poker tables, two restaurants and a venue for live entertainment.

"Our company has been exploring opportunities in Black Hawk market for the past few years," said Blake Sartini, Golden Gaming chairman and chief executive officer. "A $700 million gaming market outside of growing Denver metropolitan area creates an exciting opportunity for our company. We look forward to utilizing our gaming expertise and experience in the Black Hawk market."

The Black Hawk casino would be the first venture for Golden Gaming outside the state of Nevada.

Golden Gaming currently owns and operates 35 gaming pubs and taverns, including those under the PT Pubs’ brand, as well as several in Northern Nevada.

The company also operates the state’s third largest slot route with about 2,000 machines.

Sartini founded Golden Gaming three years ago after a successful 15-year career with Station Casinos, most recently as its chief operating officer. During his tenure, Sartini oversaw the company’s explosive expansion from one small casino to eight casinos in Nevada with more than 12,000 employees.

He is also credited with development of one of the industry’s most innovative slot club programs, Station’s Boarding Pass.

Since purchasing the PT Pubs group of taverns, Sartini has continually refined and improved the brand. In addition to cosmetic changes such as new paint, furnishings and interior re-design, the taverns (each of which contains 15 slot and video machines) were outfitted with new gaming machines and progressive games.

Golden Gaming also came out with a player’s reward program called Golden Rewards, the first of its kind for the bar/tavern industry.

The program, which has been approved by Nevada regulators, was developed by Mississippi-based Arden Progressive Systems and Games, which develops player tracking systems for casinos.

Just like Station’s Boarding Pass program, Golden Rewards offers points that can be redeemed for cash, food, merchandise and gaming giveaways.

The rewards program also features casino-style promotions such as slot tournaments and "bonusing" programs that appeal to players who prefer the tavern lifestyle over the casinos.