Station tackles small casino market

Aug 10, 2004 6:24 AM

Control of two small casinos southeast of the Strip passed into the hands of Station Casinos last week, and a company spokesman said there may be other property acquisitions in the cards.

Ned Martin, vice president of gaming development for Station, said "We’re looking for small properties that operate under a grandfather license," adding that Station is talking to owners who might be interested in selling.

Station’s two most recent acquisitions are the Magic Star on Boulder Highway and the Gold Rush on the corner of Sunset Road and Mark Street. Both have a sports book, a restaurant and about 185 slot machines.

Neither will be gaining much as a result of the change in ownership, according to Martin, who said "Our goal is to continue to operate them as small properties and continue to preserve the intimacies of those properties. We don’t plan any big changes. We’re not going to build any towers" and there will be "no expansion." Neither property offers overnight accommodations.

Martin said that under the previous owners, the direct mail marketing approach "wasn’t consistent." He said one of the changes the new owners are instituting is to make it more consistent and to target slot players.

He said the Gold Rush’s principal competition is Sunset Station, a member of the same company. He said the Magic Star has to compete with casinos along Boulder Highway.

Martin, a 39-year-old graduate of Texas University and a native of Dallas, said he didn’t know why Sidelines, Inc. wanted to sell the Gold Rush and the Great American Corporation wanted to sell Magic Star. Both properties were owned by a group that had Randy Markin as its operating manager.

Martin said that Station had been involved in on-going conversations about both properties and when Markin’s group decided to sell, it was decided that both properties would be included in the deal.

Martin said that it took about a day for the Magic Star to change hands on Aug. 3 and then the Gold Rush followed suit a few days later. He said the Gold Rush will be undergoing more cosmetic changes than the Magic Star with much of the touching up involving painting and new carpeting. He said the restaurant menus and slot floor would be "evaluated."