Company to Take Over Flamingo Laughlin
reported by the Las Vegas Gaming Wire
VEGAS, Nevada -- The Flamingo Laughlin was expected to
change ownership this morning after the gaming arm of the Carl
Icahn-controlled American Real Estate Partners received Nevada
regulators' approval to operate the Colorado River community's
Gaming Commission took only 20 minutes Thursday to approve
American Real Estate Partners' $170 million purchase of the
Laughlin from Harrah's Entertainment. At midnight, the
casino was expected to change hands.
have 140 of our people ready to affect the transition,"
American Real Estate Partners Chief Executive Officer Richard
Brown told commissioners.
company, which operates the Stratosphere and the two Arizona
Charlie's casinos in Las Vegas, expects to invest between $30
million and $40 million in refurbishing the Flamingo Laughlin,
which Harrah's acquired in last year's $9 billion buyout of
Flamingo, opened in 1990, has 1,907 hotel rooms and a
had the luxury of spending the past seven months looking at the
property and deciding what we'll need to do," Brown said.
"We're going to immediately begin a refurbishment of the
casino and we're going to get very aggressive on the marketing
Flamingo's casino will get new technology: machines will be
upgraded to include ticket in-ticket out technology. About 30
percent of the casino's 1,400 games now have the feature. The
property will also get a new name. A new title and theme was
expected to be announced this morning.
Thursday he wanted current Flamingo employees to know the new
name first. He did say the name and theme would be different
from the company's Arizona Charlie's brand. The Flamingo name
will remain through October.
has been a challenging market for casino companies in the last
few years; competition with American Indian casinos in Arizona
and California has intensified. In 2005, gaming revenues were
$621.2 million, a 4.4 percent increase from $594.8 million in
2004. Statewide gaming revenues jumped 10.3 percent
year-over-year and 13 percent on the Strip during the same
Brown said the market has been resilient. He said residential
population growth, both in Laughlin and across the Colorado
River in Bullhead City, Ariz., could help the area's casinos.
see a lot of opportunity, especially in cross marketing ideas
with our existing Las Vegas casinos," Brown said. "I
think Laughlin is still a good place for our Arizona Charlie's
customers that are looking for a quick, couple day
regulators his first job in the gaming industry was at the
Flamingo Laughlin 15 years ago, so he was excited about
returning to the casino and helping to revive it. Harrah's,
which operates Harrah's Laughlin, wasn't interested in running a
second Laughlin casino.
was a great opportunity for our company," Brown said.
"We weren't really interested in buying properties in other
(states). We think this is a great location."
Real Estate Partners, based in Mount Kisco, N.Y., is 87 percent
controlled by Icahn. In addition to its casino holdings, the
company owns residential subdivisions, condominiums, hotels, and
golf courses across the United States.
is the second transaction in the past year involving a Laughlin
casino; Landry's Restaurants closed on its purchase of the
Golden Nugget Laughlin in September. The Ramada Express, owned
by Aztar Corp., is expected to be sold as part of the ongoing
bidding war for the company.
purchase of Flamingo Laughlin also included an undeveloped
7.7-acre parcel in Atlantic City next to Sands, a casino
operated by American Real Estate Partners.
members of the Gaming Control Board earlier this month the
company was still exploring its options with the parcel.