Casino Development: Boyd Plans For Northeast Las Vegas - Wednesday 15th of February 2006

by Howard Stutz

Las Vegas Gaming Wire

Boyd Gaming Corp. announced Monday it would spend $35 million to purchase a 40-acre parcel in North Las Vegas, an indication of the company's belief that the area may house the next wave of casino development in the Las Vegas Valley.

The company said it didn't have a timetable for building on the casino-approved site, located on the southwest corner where Lamb Boulevard intersects with Centennial Parkway. The site is close to the intersection of Interstate 15 and the Las Vegas Beltway.

Boyd Gaming spokesman Rob Stillwell said the company hasn't determined if the casino site will house a Sam's Town-style casino or a property with the theme of the company's subsidiary, Coast Casinos.

"We have two very solid brands to build upon, and I think it's safe to say the casino will either be one or the other," Stillwell said.

Casino industry patriarch Jackie Gaughan, whose son Michael Gaughan founded Coast Casinos and sits on Boyd Gaming's board of directors, was a member of the investor group selling the site.

Boyd Gaming, through Coast Casinos, opened the $600 million South Coast in December. With four locals-oriented Coast properties and Sam's Town on Boulder Highway, Boyd Gaming has hinted to investors and analysts it wants to expand its off-tourist footprint.

"Growing our strong franchise in the Las Vegas locals market has been a significant priority for our company," Boyd Gaming Chairman Bill Boyd said in a statement. "This site is very well situated in a major growth corridor in the northwest part of Las Vegas with a location that is a perfect complement to, and not in conflict with, our other properties that serve Las Vegas locals."

The announcement follows plans by Station Casinos to break ground on a $400 million to $450 million hotel-casino in the North Las Vegas master-planned community of Aliante by the end of the year. Station Casinos is the largest local casino operator in Southern Nevada.

North Las Vegas has two other vacant casino parcels within its city limits; 90 acres near Lamb and Interstate 15, and a 35-acre site near Interstate 15 and the Beltway. Mayor Michael Montandon said four new casinos would be enough for the ever-expanding city.

"I've been warning people that this would happen," Montandon said. "We've got four sites and that's absolutely plenty. When you look at where the growth is heading, it was only a matter of time that the casinos would follow."

Stillwell said new casino development is the one aspect lacking in the North Las Vegas mix.

"We've said for a long time that we want to expand our locals casino brand, and this site in North Las Vegas offers an attractive location for one of our brands," Stillwell said.

Gaming analysts have been upbeat about Boyd Gaming since the company's fourth-quarter and year-end earnings announcement last week. The company said it has several expansion projects in the pipeline, including the $4 billion Echelon project, to be developed on the site of the Stardust. The company is also adding restaurants, casino space and 800 more hotel rooms to the Borgata in Atlantic City.

"We continue to believe (Boyd Gaming) has significant potential for future growth with its strong pipeline of projects," Jefferies & Co. gaming analyst Larry Klatzkin said in a note to investors.

Shares of Boyd Gaming closed at $44.05 in trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, off 67 cents, or 1.5 percent.

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