Frank Fertitta Jr., the patriarch of Station Casinos, is also considered the father of the locals casino concept.
His recipe for success was simple. Give customers a place they want to patronize, marked by good service, quality gaming, affordable restaurants and convenient parking. That was the Fertitta plan when he developed and expanded Palace Station in the 1970s and 1980s.
Aliante Station, he said, meets the criteria.
“It’s a newer version of the Palace Station. Much newer,” Fertitta said.
At $662 million, Aliante Station is closer in resemblance to its cousin, the $925 million Red Rock Resort. Fertitta, who stepped away from the business in 1993, said Aliante Station has characteristics similar to Palace Station.
In the 1970s, locals went downtown to gamble until Fertitta made the Palace Station a convenient option.
Aliante Station is in the middle of underserved North Las Vegas neighborhoods. The question, however, is whether budget-mindful patrons are put off by the property’s upscale interiors.
“People like nice places,” Fertitta said. “If it has plenty of parking, good prices and service, it should do well.”
Fertitta, 70, visited Aliante Station last week as the staff went through preopening drills. Affectionately referred to by longtime Station Casino employees as “Mr. Fertitta,” he had dinner at Pips Cucina & Wine Bar, operated by longtime friend Rino Armeni.
Aliante Station opens Tuesday in the middle of an economic downturn that has shattered gaming industry revenues, including the locals market. Fertitta said recessions in the 1970s and 1980s never hurt the local gaming establishments.
“The town was growing so fast,” Fertitta said. “Even in downturns, we did well.”
Gaming executives stayed away from the Rio’s Brasilia Ballroom on Tuesday night as Democrats celebrated Barack Obama’s presidential victory. That shouldn’t be a surprise. Most of the Strip’s boardroom occupants donated big bucks to Republican John McCain.
Rio assistant banquet manager Sommer Gay, however, was glad to see all the Democrats. She proudly wore an Obama campaign pin.
“It’s wonderful because it makes you feel like a true American,” Gay said.
Gaming Control Board members Mark Clayton and Randy Sayre traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and other foreign locations this year as part of the suitability investigation of MGM Mirage business partner Dubai World, the Persian Gulf state’s investment arm.
The trips were not lost on board Chairman Dennis Neilander.
“No wonder I’ve been so busy,” Neilander said. “You guys have been gallivanting around the world.”
Howard Stutz’s Inside Gaming column appears Sundays. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 702-477-3871.