Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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GAMING :

Regulators eye financing before OK’ing Aliante

Beyond the Sun

Aliante Station, the next major casino to open for business in the Las Vegas Valley, received preliminary approval Wednesday from state regulators for a gaming license.

But not before the Gaming Control Board questioned principals about financing for the $662 million property on the northern edge of North Las Vegas.

Board members concluded that the property, which opens Nov. 11, has adequate financing to weather the economic downturn.

Aliante Station is a 50-50 joint venture between Station Casinos and the Greenspun family, which owns the Las Vegas Sun. The Greenspuns contributed the 40-acre parcel, in the Greenspun-built Aliante housing community, for the hotel-casino. Station will manage the 202-room property for a fee.

Financing, a key hurdle for license seekers, has become more of a concern during the economic decline. Station Casinos is among the many gaming companies whose earnings have slumped in recent months. Because of its focus on suburban casinos in Las Vegas, a region hurt more than most by the housing slump, Station’s earnings have declined more dramatically than some of its counterparts on the Strip.

Station completed its financing last fall. It includes loans of up to $430 million and $260 million in equity contributions from Station and the Greenspuns.

If the property doesn’t meet earnings projections to the lenders’ satisfaction, the partners are allowed to put additional cash equity into the project as a stopgap, Station executives said.

Executives provided earnings projections for Aliante Station that regulators called “conservative.” The property needs to generate only 33 percent of what was projected to break even.

Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said financing for the project “appears adequate” and Station Casinos does not go “willy-nilly” into new ventures.

Aliante Station will have 2,550 slot machines, 40 table games, a 12-table poker room, a 16-screen movie theater and a 1,200-seat showroom.

Board member Randy Sayre said it’s “refreshing” to see a valley casino built for less than $1 billion and to see a project move forward in a “troublesome economy.”

The Nevada Gaming Commission will enter a final vote on the casino’s license application Oct. 23 in Carson City.

Unlike some other Station properties, which faced backlash from local residents over their location or scope, Aliante Station has been largely welcomed by residents in the neighborhood, which lacks some amenities of more established suburbs.

“This is something the community is longing for and looking forward to,” Aliante General Manager Joe Hasson said.

Sun Capital Bureau reporter Cy Ryan contributed to this report.

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