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Golden Entertainment plans to attract more business guests

Golden Entertainment said it plans to complete the design of the Stratosphere’s new meeting space by the end of the year as it seeks to attract more business guests to the iconic resort and tower.

“Ultimately (the meeting space) will allow this property to be competitive midweek’’ and reduce dependence on online travel agencies, Golden CEO Blake Sartini told Wall Street analysts Thursday during the company’s fourth-quarter conference call.

Sartini did not say how much Golden would spend to build a new meeting space adjacent to the Strat or when construction would begin.

The Strat may get as much as 70 percent of its clients from online travel agencies, according to Macquarie gaming analyst Chad Beynon. Agencies generally take commissions of between 10 and 15 percent of the advertised room price, he said. The Strat has 2,427-rooms.

Golden plans to invest another $53 million into the Strat this year, including constructing a new bar and sports book on the casino floor. The company invested $24 million last year, including to upgrade 311 rooms.

Sartini reiterated the resort’s renovation will finish in 2021 and cost $140 million.

Golden is betting the new amenities will entice visitors to spend more time and money at the property. The Strat receives 1.2 million annual visitors — excluding those that are staying overnight at the hotel — who come mainly to glance down at the southern valley from a height of more than 800 feet.

Sartini also said he is bullish on Laughlin and distributed gaming, the operation of gaming machines in retail locations such as gas stations and supermarkets.

Golden now controls about 40 percent of the Laughlin hotel market after completing the purchase of Colorado Belle and Edgewater in January. Laughlin is attracting Las Vegas locals “looking for a value market,’’ Sartini said.

Sartini said distributed gaming has the potential “to be one of the biggest growth initiatives’’ in the region. Golden could acquire more distributed gaming assets, said CFO Charles Protell.

Golden reported a net loss of $25.9 million, or 90 cents per share, in the fourth quarter on revenue of $210.1 million. That compares to a net loss of $13.5 million, or 53 cents per share, on revenue of $183.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Shares of Golden fell 64 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $16.45.

Contact Todd Prince at 702-383-0386 or tprince@reviewjournal.com. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

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