Stratosphere owner Golden Entertainment is expected to receive full state approval for its planned acquisition of the Colorado Belle and Edgewater casinos in Laughlin, Nevada later this month.
This week, the Nevada Gaming Control Board unanimously recommended to the Gaming Commission that the state agency allow Golden to buy the two casino resorts from Marnell Gaming. The deal, which was announced in July, totals $190 million.
The Gaming Commission will vote on the issue at its December 20 meeting.
If the Gaming Commission finalizes the acquisition, Golden Entertainment will become the dominant casino operator in Laughlin by controlling three of the 11 gaming floors. The company already owns and operates the Aquarius Casino Resort, which is adjacent to Edgewater and Colorado Belle.
Combined, Edgewater and Colorado Belle offer more than 1,400 slot machines and 50 table games. Their accompanying hotels feature over 2,100 rooms and nearly a dozen restaurants. The larger Aquarius has nearly 2,000 hotel rooms, and casino floor that houses over 1,200 slots and 30 tables.
The Golden-Marnell deal also includes the Laughlin Event Center, an outdoor concert space located within walking distance of all three resorts.
“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 explained.
Over the last 12 months, gross gambling revenue in Laughlin totaled $507.4 million, which is a four percent increase. The Nevada Gaming Control Board reports the market had 42,633 slot machines in October, and 212 tables.
Golden Entertainment has gone from operating over 60 taverns in Southern Nevada through its PT’s Entertainment Group, to a major casino operator. The transformation began when the company purchased American Casino & Entertainment and its Stratosphere and two Arizona Charlie’s for $850 million in October 2017.
With the Edgewater and Colorado Belle spend, Golden has now invested over $1 billion on acquisitions in a little more than a year. Golden Entertainment posted a net loss of $3.1 million in the third quarter of 2018.
Golden is additionally shelling out $140 million to renovate the Strat, the quasi-Strip property that features Las Vegas’ tallest structure. Roughly half of the resort’s hotel rooms are being redone, the casino floor is being upgraded, and its iconic Top of the World restaurant will be refreshed.
The makeover is an investment many Las Vegans felt was necessary. Following Golden’s acquisition of the Strat, one online reader commented, “There isn’t enough hand sanitizer in the world for me to ever set foot in the Stratosphere.” Another quipped, “It needs more than $140 million, but it’s a start.”
On Expedia.com, the Stratosphere has a 3.6/5 rating, which classifies as “Good” based on more than 50,000 reviews.
BY DEVIN O’CONNOR