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Downtown gets a ‘thumb’s up’

Jun 29, 2004 4:38 AM

Last week, a pair of Wall Street analysts, William Schmitt and David Katz of CIBC World Markets, paid a visit to downtown Las Vegas and left with an optimistic view of the often-beleaguered gaming venue.

"We believe that the downtown area is in the midst of a period of rejuvenation," the pair writes in a CIBC report. "Our view is that improvement in the market should continue with the new ownership of the Golden Nugget and the generally strong trends in Las Vegas."

Those trends include increasing motor traffic from Southern California, more flights into McCarran Airport, enhanced entertainment at the Fremont Street Experience and increased focus among investors on prospective opportunities in the downtown area.

The CIBC report also cited attention generated by a new "reality TV" show focusing on the Golden Nugget, and Boyd Gaming’s domination of the Hawaiian tourist trade.

In addition to the recent purchase of the Golden Nugget by dot-com wunderkinds Tim Poster and Tom Breitling, Barrack Gaming just purchased Jackie Gaughan’s Plaza, Las Vegas Club, Gold Spike and Western Hotel properties, and MTR Gaming bought the Horseshoe from Becky Binion Behnen.

The report predicted that the challenges facing the Horseshoe — older gaming equipment, low visitor volume, limited food offerings — could be rectified with an infusion of money from its new owner, MTR Gaming, or its casino operator, Harrah’s Entertainment.