Golden Entertainment Considering Options for Closed Laughlin Riverfront Casino

Golden Entertainment’s (NASDAQ:GDEN) Colorado Belle Casino Resort in Laughlin, Nevada is approaching 30 months in closure and the operator is mulling options for the venue.

Golden Entertainment’s Colorado Belle in Laughlin, Nevada. The operator said it’s considering various plans for the venue. (Image: YouTube)

In response to a question from B. Riley analyst David Bain, Golden CEO Blake Sartini addressed the matter on the company’s second-quarter earnings conference call earlier this week. The chief executive officer noted the operator is maintaining the gaming license for the riverfront casino-hotel “exploring A to Z opportunities for that piece of property.”

The way I view that down there is I think that market at some point could use a significant traffic driver,” Sartini on the call. “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.”

Golden operates the Aquarius and Edgewater gaming venues in Laughlin, putting it in competition with Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) as the dominant casino name in that city.

Colorado Belle Is Unique Venue

Closed during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Colorado Belle sits along the Colorado River and embraced that location, sporting a riverboat theme.

Though not entirely objective on the matter, Sartini describes the casino-hotel as “a one-of-a-kind piece of property” that offers strong growth prospects and visibility in the Laughlin market.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Golden will rush to reopen the venue. As the gaming industry returned to normal following the darkest days of the COVID-19 crisis, Nevada operators with multiple venues in single markets realized they could do more with less. For example, Red Rock Resorts’ (NASDAQ:RRR) is permanently closing Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho, and Texas Station in the Las Vegas area.

Likewise, Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD) appears unlikely to reopen Eastside Cannery. Golden could take a page from those playbooks and apply it to Colorado Belle, particularly because the operator’s other Laughlin venues are thriving.

Golden Has Options for Colorado Belle

As holder of the gaming license and owner of the real estate, Golden holds all the cards when it comes to Colorado Belle’s future.

The operator could demolish the venue, turn it into a non-gaming venue or sell it to a competitor, though none of those ideas were specifically mentioned on the conference call.

“I see that (Colorado Belle) as a valuable asset in close proximity to our two assets, which are the best located in the market that can be utilized, I think, to drive additional traffic,” noted Sartini.

Obviously, Laughlin isn’t Las Vegas, but the former could be appealing to a smaller gaming outfit looking to add Nevada exposure. Likewise, Golden could see value in eventually reopening Colorado Belle.

Heading into Golden’s most recent earnings report “investors were concerned with Laughlin trends given pressures from higher gas prices. This drive-to market largely targets tourists from SoCal, Arizona and Las Vegas, thus higher gas prices increase costs to reach the destination. Despite industry visitation/GGR down 4%/5% YoY in 2Q, GDEN’s properties gained market share as a full schedule of concerts/events helped grow visitation and non-gaming revenue,” said Roth Capital analyst Edward Engel in a recent client note.

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