Golden Entertainment closer to operating 2 Laughlin casinos

Golden Entertainment Inc. is one step closer to operating two Laughlin casinos.

Meeting in Carson City, the state Gaming Control Board on Wednesday unanimously recommended approval of Golden’s $190 million acquisition of the Colorado Belle and Edgewater properties from Marnell Gaming.

The Nevada Gaming Commission will consider final approval of the transaction Dec. 20.

Adding the Colorado Belle and the Edgewater would give Golden — owners of the Stratosphere and Arizona Charlies’ properties in Las Vegas — three adjacent casinos along the Colorado River next to Golden’s existing Aquarius development.

The Edgewater and Colorado Belle have more than 1,400 slot machines, 40 table games and 2,150 hotel rooms combined.

The Aquarius features more than 1,200 slot machines, more 30 table games and almost 2,000 hotel rooms.

Under terms of the deal, the company would pay $155 million of the price in cash and the rest in restricted stock priced at $28.54 a share. Marnell Gaming is positioned to receive as much as a 4.2 percent stake in Golden.

Marnell to board

Marnell Gaming CEO and Chairman Anthony Marnell III will be nominated to the board at the annual meeting of shareholders next year.

Golden executives said the transaction has been cleared by the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission over competitive concerns. There are 11 properties in the Laughlin market.

“These assets fit very nicely into our portfolio, particularly given our expertise in operating value-driven and regional gaming operations,” said Steve Arcana, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Golden. “By incorporating the Edgewater and the Belle to our Aquarius operation, we allow for strategic marketing positioning with a plan to offer the consumer a premium, deluxe and economy experience within the three properties.”

Arcana said the three properties would be under the direction of Sean Hammond, vice president and general manager of the Aquarius. He’ll be assisted by Ryan Walker, who currently leads the Edgewater and Colorado Belle, as vice president and assistant general manager.

The acquisition of the Colorado Belle and the Edgewater would give Golden control of the 1,200-seat Laughlin Events Center, which hosts about eight concerts a year. Golden executives said they hope to add two or three more shows per year to the venue.

When the transaction was announced in July, Union Gaming analyst John DeCree noted that the presence of Marnell — developer of the M Resort — on the board of directors could present a new acquisition opportunity for Golden since the Marnell Group owns the 1,400-room Nugget in Sparks.

Laughlin, Nevada’s third-largest gaming market, draws customers from Southern California, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Golden has indicated that through its Golden Entertainment Rewards loyalty card it would also cross-market to Montana residents where the company operates a slot route similar to a slot route operation in Nevada.

Regulation amendments

The Control Board also unanimously agreed to forward proposed amendments to Regulations 5, 5A, 22 and 26 to the Gaming Commission for consideration.

The amendments clarify the definitions of amateur sports, suspicious wagers and establish rules and licensing for wagering call centers.

Amendments to regulations on the operation of race and sportsbooks clearly list prohibited wagers. They include bets on any amateur sport or athletic event other than the Olympics or collegiate athletics; coaches, owners, officials, staff and participants in sporting events; any event in which the sanctioning body is suspected of not maintaining a event’s integrity; and any election for the public within or outside the state.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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