Boyd Project Receives Preliminary Approval

3 November 2005

by Rod Smith

LAS VEGAS – (PRESS RELEASE) -- The Nevada Gaming Control Board on Wednesday gave preliminary licensing approval to Boyd Gaming Corp.'s new South Coast, a move sure to please Las Vegas' horse lovers.

Rodeo fans, however, could be disappointed by the $600 million hotel-casino set to open in late December on Las Vegas Boulevard near Silverado Ranch south of McCarran International Airport.

After earnings kudos from regulators, Boyd Gaming Chairman Bill Boyd called the approval a giant step forward for his company, already the third-largest gaming company in the world.

"This is our largest project to date in Nevada. We're excited about it and being able to contribute more to the local community and the state," he said.

Boyd Gaming Corp. President Keith Smith said the South Coast will be the company's fifth Coast-branded casino, its seventh locals casino in the Las Vegas market, its 12th property in Nevada and its 19th operation nationwide.

"This is our largest single investment in the Las Vegas locals market and in the state of Nevada. Plus, it's in one of the fastest growing areas in the Las Vegas Valley," he said.

The project will come up for final approval at the Nevada Gaming Commission's next meeting, on Nov. 17.

South Coast General Manager Mike Gaughan Jr. stressed the importance of the South Coast's equestrian center, which is at the heart of the project.

"There's nothing else like this in the country, an equestrian center attached to a hotel with restaurants and all the amenities. It'll appeal to a segment of the market not now being served in Las Vegas," he said.

Only Burbank and Del Mar in California and Fort Worth, Texas, and Phoenix have comparable equestrian centers, but none of those is associated with a hotel, he said.

Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said the equestrian center not only makes South Coast stand out among local hotel-casinos, but should prove to be a marketing plum.

"There are times when mid-week business is hard to come by, and their combination with an equestrian center and all the amenities will be unique in the United States," he said.

There are 200 breeder associations and 500 horse shows annually in the United States, and South Coast is targeting 20 of the associations and 40 events as its prime market opportunities, Gaughan said.

"We have great demand for the (equestrian) center and have been booking nicely," Gaughan told regulators.

Equestrian events set for 2006 will include the National Reining Horse Association convention, the All American Reining Classic, the Breeders Invitational Cutting Event and the Blenheim Equi Sports Hunter and Jumper Event.

However, Gaughan also cautioned that the equestrian center is not well designed to host rodeos since the 1,160 horse stalls on the first floor of the parking structure are not designed to house a wide variety of animals.

Industry professionals said the reason Boyd Gaming is already proceeding with a second tower, which will open soon after the first, is that the original phase of the project is largely booked with equestrian events and the company needs more rooms to accommodate guests planning business meetings there or driving in from California.

The original tower will have 652 rooms and the second, set to open in the spring, will add 695 rooms for a total of 1,357 rooms. Gaughan said the company will charge an average daily rate of $90, approximately the same as the Sun Coast in Summerlin, previously its newest locals hotel-casino.

Coast Casinos Chief Operating Officer David Ross said of the 2,240 positions filled from 21,000 applicants, 20 percent to 25 percent were transfers within the company.

"Promoting from within typified Bill Boyd's and (Coast Casinos Chief Executive Officer) Michael Gaughan's management philosophy," he said.

Ross also said that while the company is committed to diversity, statistics are not available on the makeup of the South Coast work force because one-third of the applicants failed to identify their ethnic origins on their applications.

Also on Wednesday, the Control Board granted a limited, two-year license to Regency Casino in Laughlin.

And it approved a reorganization plan for Resorts International Entertainment, a subsidiary of Colony Resorts which owns the Las Vegas Hilton.

Company officials told regulators the reorganization would make it easier to raise equity capital for improvements and expansion projects, and improve its ability to compete with Harrah's Entertainment and MGM Mirage, the world's largest gaming companies, in terms of buying power.

The Nevada Gaming Commission will complete consideration of the Control Board actions in two weeks.


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