Nevada: Golden Entertainment evaluating plans for shuttered Colorado Belle in Laughlin

Nevada: Golden Entertainment evaluating plans for shuttered Colorado Belle in Laughlin

Article brief provided by Nevada Independent
  • Howard Stutz, Nevada Independent
August 11, 2022 10:56 PM
  • Howard Stutz, Nevada Independent

Golden Entertainment is maintaining its gaming license for the Colorado Belle Casino Hotel in Laughlin [Nev.] that has been closed for 29 months, but the company is evaluating plans for the riverboat-themed property.

Las Vegas-based Golden currently operates two casino-hotels in the Colorado River gaming community, the 1,900-room Aquarius and the 1,052-room Edgewater. The nearly 1,200-room Colorado Belle is adjacent to the Edgewater.

“That is a one-of-a-kind piece of property on the riverfront and has a multitude of potential uses,” Golden CEO Blake Sartini said last week on the company’s second-quarter earnings conference call. “I won’t get into what we’ve explored.”

The Colorado Belle is the largest of the five casino hotels in Southern Nevada that have not reopened since the pandemic caused a 78-day shutdown of gaming in 2020.

Last month, Red Rock Resorts  said it would demolish  its three closed properties – Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station in North Las Vegas and Fiesta Henderson – and then clear the sites and sell the land without the gaming entitlements.

Boyd Gaming  has no plans to reopen, nor demolish, its Eastside Cannery property on the Boulder Highway. The company said customer demand in the market is not strong enough to handle another casino. Boyd also operates Sam’s Town in close proximity to the Cannery.

Sartini made similar comments about Golden’s presence in the Laughlin market.

“I think the capacity that we currently have with the rooms and the casino inventory is sufficient for what we see going forward down there,” Sartini said. “That market at some point could use a significant traffic driver.”

Laughlin, which was  one of two markets in the state  that didn’t set a gaming revenue record in 2021, has more than 8,600 hotel rooms. The community 90 miles from Las Vegas and across the Colorado River from Bullhead City, Arizona, has seen 624,500 visitors through June, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, a less than 1 percent decline from 2021.

Golden operates the Laughlin Events Center, which has an active performance schedule.

Without Colorado Belle, Golden and Caesars Entertainment are essentially tied as Laughlin’s largest casino operators. Caesars has the 1,500-room Harrah’s Laughlin and the 1,450-room Tropicana Laughlin.

Even as Colorado Belle remains idled, Golden is looking at acquisition opportunities, including slot machine routes in markets outside of Nevada where it is the largest operator of gaming in taverns, bars and other third-party locations.

Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli suggested Golden would look at casino opportunities in Nevada, given the company’s presence in Las Vegas, Laughlin and Pahrump.

“Buy-side mergers and acquisition opportunities would be more of a (casino) recycling effort, in which Golden would be likely to dispose of a non-core (casino) or (casinos), prior to an acquisition,” he wrote in a research note following the conference call.

This excerpt originally appeared in Indy Gaming August 10.