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Nevada gaming board recommends approvals of Palms, Aliante deals

Southern Nevada’s locals casino landscape is on track for some change, at least in their executive offices.

The state Gaming Control Board on Wednesday unanimously recommended approval of the acquisitions of the Palms by a subsidiary of Red Rock Resorts and the Aliante Hotel by Boyd Gaming.

Both approvals sailed through the review process and are expected to be considered for final approval by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Sept. 22.

Red Rock Resorts, parent company of Station Casinos, announced in May that it was planning to acquire the 700-room Palms property and its 600 condominium units for $312.5 million, while Boyd said in April that it would buy the 211-room Aliante in North Las Vegas for $280 million.

Station executives view the Palms as a leading asset because of its proximity to the Strip. Chief Financial Officer Marc Falcone told regulators most of the company’s 1,700 employees would be retained.

In the Aliante matter, gaming industry leader Bill Boyd told the board the acquisition of the hotel-casino and the pending acquisition of two Cannery Casino properties would expand the company’s presence to areas in the valley it has never been.

Boyd, who first appeared before Nevada gaming regulators in the 1960s when the Eldorado casino in Henderson was licensed and last appeared before them in 2004 in the company’s acquisition of the Coast Casinos chain, said the company currently holds 21 properties in seven states and will add three more locally as soon as two transactions are completed.

The Control Board moved through the Palms matter so swiftly that Boyd executives hadn’t arrived yet for their hearing when it was their turn on the agenda. As Falcone and Station Casinos President Richard Haskins explained the Palms transaction to the board, they were watched by about 25 red-shirted Culinary Union supporters attending the session.

Like most Station properties, Palms workers don’t have union representation, but employees there were assured last week that they would not lose any benefits, salary or seniority when the transition to Station occurs.

Station officials also told hourly third-party food and beverage employees that they would be retained with benefits as well.

Culinary officials made a push into Station last week, winning a vote in a secret-ballot election to represent employees at Boulder Station.

Station executives didn’t elaborate on future plans for the Palms, other than saying they would continue to market it both to locals as well as tourists with hopes of returning the property to the prominence it held when it first opened.

The property has 15 food outlets, the 2,500-seat Pearl Theater performance hall, a 14-screen Brenden Theatres and IMAX movieplex, a 2-acre pool and 60,000 square feet of meeting and convention space.

Falcone said the company acquired the property at 53 percent of its original construction cost, but that cash flow is 60 percent below its peak level.

The company is financing the acquisition from investment bankers TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners LP, the majority owners, each with 49 percent stakes, with $200 million cash on hand and a $150 million financing package.

Boyd executives said they won’t have much upgrading to do at Aliante since previous owners kept the property in good shape. Boyd CEO Keith Smith told regulators the key will be preparing the property for new customers with growth anticipated in North Las Vegas. Smith said there are 20,000 new homes anticipated in North Las Vegas as companies like Faraday Future and Hyperloop One arrive and build nearby.

Boyd is in the midst of $100 million in companywide upgrades to rooms and restaurants, already completing improvements at The Orleans, Suncoast and the Gold Coast with work coming up next at Boyd’s California and Sam’s Town properties.

In other business Wednesday, the board recommended approval for the addition of two private gaming salons at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the licensing of Paragon Gaming Management to acquire the Hooters Hotel and the transfer of a gaming license to a new location for the Indian Springs Casino, which was displaced by the expansion of Creech Air Force Base.

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

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