VEGAS, Nevada - Ground zero in the looming
battle between locals casino powerhouses Station Casinos
and Boyd Gaming Corp. is about halfway between Green
Valley Ranch Station Casino and the South Coast.
commercials, billboards, newspaper ads and mailers are
the weapons being used to poach and protect coveted casino
customers, but neither company thinks the competition
is a win-lose proposition.
Gaming's Coast Casinos subsidiary is opening South Coast
on Dec. 22, raising investor concerns about whether the
property will steal business from nearby casinos such
as the Green
Valley Ranch Station.
South Coast, southwest of Las Vegas and Silverado Ranch
boulevards, is about five miles west of Green
Valley Ranch Station.
Station isn't worried about the newest kid on the block.
In fact, the company is all but welcoming its toughest
competitor to the southern valley.
is a terrific company and a very strong competitor,"
Station Chief Financial Officer Glenn Christenson said.
"You have to give them the benefit of the doubt.
They've been building casinos for years ... I have no
doubt they'll be able to fill those rooms."
South Coast expects to fill its 660 rooms with both drive-in
customers and people flying into town for special events
and meetings, many of its casino customers will be cultivated
from the surrounding area that is growing by leaps and
Boyd's estimate, the population within a five-mile radius
of the South Coast has grown more than 70 percent since
2000 to an estimated 300,000 people.
according to Las Vegas research firm Applied Analysis,
the three miles surrounding South Coast represents one
of the fastest growing areas of the valley when compared
with growth surrounding other major locals casinos such
Valley Ranch Station, Suncoast
and the under-construction Red Rock Resort.
1990 through 2000, the population within three miles of
South Coast -- largely open desert until recent years
-- grew by 667 percent. Through 2010, the population is
expected to grow by 37 percent around the South Coast,
compared with 29 percent for Green
Valley Ranch Station and 30 percent for Red Rock.
success in booking events at the South Coast's equestrian
and meeting centers prompted Boyd to accelerate construction
of a second hotel tower that is expected to open by June,
bringing the number of rooms to 1,300. That would be one
of the largest off-Strip hotels in town, not far below
1,800 rooms. The
Orleans is a sister Coast property.
differences between a Station property and a Coast property
aren't dramatic, Christenson said. "These are two
very strong companies competing in this market. Both of
us compete strongly every day."
have been "voting with their feet for some time,"
he said. "Over time the market will continue to grow
and both Station and Boyd will continue to be very successful."
same growth theory is driving the Silverton,
the closest major casino to South Coast, to undergo that
property's biggest expansion effort. The Silverton,
on Blue Diamond Road just west of Interstate 15, is just
over three miles from the South Coast.
the next few months, the Silverton
will spend tens of millions of dollars building up to
four restaurants, a spa, gym, new pool, 400-room hotel
tower, convention center, lounge, a bigger casino and
an ampitheater-style entertainment venue.
restaurants will be complete by April when the rest of
the upgrades will begin construction. The tower and the
other additions are scheduled to open by mid-2007. In
the future, the Silverton
envisions creating a bigger resort community with an on-site
second resort, timeshares, hotels and a shopping mall.
is responding to the region's population growth rather
than to the opening of South Coast, Silverton
President Craig Cavileer said. The South Coast will compete
with the Silverton,
but will also attract more attention to the growing South
Strip region, he said.
really just expands the market," he said. "We're
really the only destination property out here now. The
market has proven that there are a lot of customers that
enjoy the experience of Las Vegas but prefer not to stay
right on the Strip. They really want to settle into a
more comfortable environment than on the 48th floor of
a 5,000-room hotel."
competition is expected to grow dramatically along Las
Vegas Boulevard South in the years to come. Station owns
55 acres of land just south of the South Coast where it
expects to build a casino someday. And developers Garry
Goett and Anthony Marnell III plan their own competing
casino resorts farther south.
Coast is about eight miles south of the company's existing
Orleans in particular has customers who live at the
southern end of the valley who will now have a much shorter
drive to a Coast property with the opening of South Coast,
Boyd spokesman Rob Stillwell said.
of the Orleans'
business isn't a concern, nor is the South Coast depending
on any existing Coast customers flocking to the new property,
population growth at the southern end of the valley has
been tremendous," he said. "The equestrian center
and the large number of timeshares being built in the
area present tremendous potential for new customers."
Coast will steal some business from Green
Valley Ranch Station, although the population is growing
at such a strong clip that these and future suburban casinos
will likely absorb the competition, Bear Stearns stock
analyst Joe Greff said.
Valley Ranch Station opened in December 2001, revenue
was clipped by 15 percent to 20 percent as customers gravitated
from the Sunset
Station and Fiesta
Henderson properties, he said.
cannibalization of business was much lower than the 50
percent that company executives had predicted before Green
Valley Ranch Station opened.
from neighborhood casinos in Las Vegas has grown by more
than 10 percent this year and is expected to be strong
in the coming years as billions of dollars' worth of hotel
projects take shape on the Strip by the end of the decade,
stimulating jobs and population growth, Greff said.
5,000 to 7,000 people continue to move to Las Vegas each
month," Greff said. "Surprisingly, this hasn't
slowed down over the last few years."