Golden Gaming announced Wednesday an $11 million expansion and renovation of the Pahrump Nugget a week after deciding not to acquire a competing area property.
The local tavern and slot route operator canceled an agreement announced in November to purchase the Saddle West, also in Pahrump.
Golden Gaming Chief Operating Officer Steve Arcana said the company decided to focus on the Pahrump Nugget, which has 22 acres of undeveloped land, rather than adding another hotel and casino to the portfolio.
"We're still very bullish on the Pahrump market," Arcana said. "It was mutually decided upon that it was in their best interest to continue to operate it, and it was in our best interest to focus on what we're doing out there."
He denied that the slowing economy factored into the decision to cancel the purchase.
The expansion, which will include 6,100 square feet of new casino space, an eight-screen, 1,300-seat movie theatre and an arcade, is the first of a planned three-phased expansion during the next few years.
The company has also begun a $1 million renovation of the Nugget's 70 hotel rooms.
Construction on the $7 million theater complex is scheduled to break ground in September and be ready by Memorial Day.
Golden Gaming is negotiating with various theater operators to run the complex, but a decision has yet to be finalized, according to Christopher Abraham, Golden Gaming's vice president of marketing. Ironically, the theater announcement comes the same week as Saddle West's announcement that it plans to show first-run films in its showroom beginning in September.
The Saddle West, which has 155 hotel rooms and a 12,000-square-foot casino next to a recreational vehicle park, is owned by Anthony Marnell III and Sher Gaming.
Marnell could not be reached for comment on Golden Gaming's decision to back out of its purchase agreement, but Arcana said the agreement was a "mutual decision" between Marnell and Blake Sartini, Golden Gaming's founder and chief executive officer.
"We've maintained a good relationship with that group," Arcana said. "They do a terrific job. It is mutually beneficial for both of us to continue to do what we're doing."
Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3893.