Full House Resorts sells management contact for $97.5 million

Full House Resorts Inc. has sold its FireKeepers casino management contract for $97.5 million, a deal that will allow the Las Vegas-based company to pay off its outstanding corporate debt.

As of Sept. 30, Full House had $30.3 million in outstanding debt and $4.5 million available on its revolving credit line with Wells Fargo & Co., the company said.

Since its August 2009 opening, Full House has managed the $300 million Firekeepers casino in Battle Creek, Mich., for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians. But the tribe negotiated a buyout, four years early, of the Full House contract.

As of May 1, the tribe will both own and operate the hotel-casino. Mark Miller, Full House's chief operating officer and chief financial officer, was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

The company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter and 2011 earnings today .

Analysts surveyed by Yahoo Finance expect fourth-quarter earnings of 6 cents a share, on revenue of $31.08 million. For 2011, gaming industry analysts estimates for Full House were for earnings of 37 cents a share on revenue of $104.04 million.

"We are thrilled ... that our tribe will soon not only own, but operate FireKeepers Casino," said Homer Mandoka, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band's tribal chairman. "We will continue to develop jobs for our tribe and the region."

FireKeepers employs 1,500 people, who will continue to be led by general manager R. Bruce McKee. Mandoka didn't release details associated with the tribe's buy out of Full House's management contract, a deal scheduled to run until August 2016.

FireKeepers also recently celebrated the topping off their resort style hotel opening later this year. The FireKeepers hotel project will add 242 rooms, a pool, a restaurant, expanded guest parking, a retail shop and a 2,000-seat event center for conventions or concerts.

The tribe said the hotel is being built on 78 acres of tribal land held in trust by the federal government and earmarked for continuing economic development by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band.

Full House's sale of its interest in a Michigan casino was announced about a month after a 100-room hotel project adjacent to its Rising Star casino in Indiana was delayed due to zoning issues.

Rising Sun/Ohio County First Inc. and the Rising Sun Regional Foundation Inc. have been contracted to build the hotel on land owned by Full House.

"The company is currently reviewing and exploring alternative options," Full House said.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.