Golden Entertainment snaps up Stratosphere owner, ACEP

Golden Entertainment snaps up Stratosphere owner, ACEP

Thursday, June 15, 2017 Posted by James Walker
The iconic Stratosphere towers above the Las Vegas Strip

This week signalled a further shift in casino operations at the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip, after Golden Entertainment unveiled plans to acquire American Casino & Entertainment Properties (ACEP), owner of the Stratosphere Casino, for $850 million.

ACEP owns and operates three properties in Las Vegas – the Stratosphere, Arizona Charlie’s Dacatur and Arizona Charlie’s Boulder – along with the Aquarius Resort in Laughlin, Nevada.

The company’s flagship Stratosphere property features an 80,000sq.ft casino and the 1,149-foot Stratosphere Tower, one of the most iconic landmarks on the North Las Vegas Strip and the tallest freestanding observation tower in the US.

Nevada-based Golden Entertainment owns and operates gaming properties across two divisions: distributed gaming and resort and casino operations. The group currently owns four casinos, 56 taverns and operates almost 1,000 distributed gaming locations across the US.

Upon completion of the transaction, which is expected to close by the end of the year, Golden will operate over 15,800 slot machines, 114 table games and more than 5,100 hotel rooms across eight casino properties.

Commenting on the deal, Blake Sartini, chairman and CEO of Golden, said: “This is a transformational event for our company, creating a significant gaming portfolio centred around Nevada-based casinos that, in addition to our Pahrump properties, will include two well-known Las Vegas locals casinos, a destination resort in Laughlin, and the iconic Stratosphere property on the Las Vegas Strip.

“As with our existing businesses, we believe the American properties are poised to benefit tremendously from anticipated continued economic growth in Nevada, particularly from the continued strength in the Las Vegas market.”

Golden Entertainment’s acquisition of the Stratosphere marks the latest stage in the evolution of the northern Las Vegas Strip. Last month it was announced that Alex Meruelo and Meruelo Group, owners of the Grand Sierra in Reno, have agreed to buy the nearby SLS Las Vegas.

The SLS, formerly the Sahara, opened in 2014 after a $415 million upgrade, but had struggled initially to generate a profit.

Meanwhile, December 2016 saw the opening of the Asian-inspired Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino on West Sahara Avenue. The property will eventually be joined by Resorts World Las Vegas – another major casino development currently under construction at the northern end of the Strip.

“As more development continues to come to Las Vegas, the lines between the Strip and Downtown are somewhat beginning to blur, and we think a larger, more cohesive entertainment destination is a benefit for all involved,” Lucky Dragon’s chief operating officer, Dave Jacoby, told last year.

Totally Gaming says: ACEP’s properties represent an ideal complement to Golden Entertainment’s existing operations, as they strengthen the group’s presence in the Las Vegas locals market, while adding an iconic destination property to its portfolio. Given the recent investment activity focused on the north end of the Strip, chairman Blake Sartini said the group was looking to develop the Stratosphere further by developing 15 acres of real estate surrounding the resort.

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