Century Casinos Enters Reno with Nugget Sparks Acquisition

Posted on: February 23, 2022, 10:34h. 

Last updated on: February 23, 2022, 02:41h.

Century Casinos (NASDAQ:CNTY) is entering the Reno market through the $195 million acquisition of the Nugget Sparks casino and a 50 percent interest in the real estate company that owns the gaming venue. This will be the the operator’s first move into Nevada.

Nugget Sparks
The Nugget Casino in Sparks, Nevada. Century Casinos is buying the venue in a $195 million transaction. (Image: Reno Gazette-Journal)

Under the terms of the deal, Colorado-based Century is paying $100 million to Marnell Gaming for Nugget Sparks and $95 million for half of Smooth Bourbon — the real estate entity — representing a capitalization rate of 7.9 percent, based on preliminary 2021 financial data. The buyer also gets a five-year option to purchase the remainder of Smooth Bourbon for $105 million, plus two percent per annum.

Century is also signing with the real estate company valued at $15 million per year. The operator owns the property assets of some of its venues and leases buildings from real estate investment trusts (REITs) in other locations.

We have been looking at entering the Reno market for a long time, and we believe the Nugget is a perfect fit for our portfolio,” said Century co-CEOs Erwin Haitzmann and Peter Hoetzinger in a statement. “We believe there is a lot of upside to this transaction.”

The buyer says the purchase of Nugget Sparks will be immediately accretive to earnings and will bolster free cash flow. The property transaction is slated to close in the second quarter with the operational deal following a year later.

Century Arrives in Nevada

Owing to its penchant for value-adding bolt-on acquisitions, Century was widely expected to participate in industry deal-making this year.

When the Nugget Sparks deal closes, the operator will run 10 gaming venues in North America, including Canada, Colorado, Missouri, Nevada, and West Virginia. While Reno is dwarfed by Las Vegas in the Nevada gaming scene, the former offers its own benefits to operators, indicating Century could wring significant value from its footprint in the market.

“Anchored by a solid value proposition for both businesses and employees, population growth in the MSA has trended +1-2 percent Y/Y (vs. 0.5-0.7 percent U.S. average) for the past 6 years. This has also translated to solid job growth, both in absolute growth and in terms of diversification,” said Stifel analyst Jeffrey Stantial in a note to clients.

While nearby Lake Tahoe is home to famed ski resorts and other outdoor recreation, Reno is attracting companies, such as Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Tesla, contributing to an unemployment rate below three percent — far below Nevada and national averages.

Nugget Sparks Particulars

Located just three miles from Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Nugget Sparks has two hotel towers and 110,000 square feet of convention space.

“The property consists of 50,200 square feet of casino space, 859 slot machines, 29 table games, 1,382 hotel rooms, and seven dining venues,” according to the Century statement.

Based on initial 2021 estimates, the venue notched net operating revenue of $100.4 million on adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $32.8 million.

“The property is well-maintained, though should benefit from CNTY’s operational prowess, given Marnell Gaming’s core competencies lie more on the development side. We also expect cost synergies to prove more material this time around, given Nugget Casino Resort has been operated as a standalone property,” adds Stantial.

He rates Century a “buy” with a $19 price target.