Golden Entertainment is upping its Laughlin gaming profile: the tavern owner turned budding casino giant announced on Monday it will acquire the Edgewater and Colorado Belle from Marnell Gaming in a deal worth up to $190 million.

Blake Sartini Golden Entertainment

Former downtown Las Vegas craps dealer, now CEO of Golden Entertainment Blake Sartini (seen here atop the Stratosphere), has transformed his tavern business into a serious player in the Nevada casino market in just six years. Golden purchased the Stratosphere in Las Vegas late in 2017. (Image: Las Vegas Sun)(Image: elipagephoto/LVR-J)

Golden CEO Blake Sartini said this is the latest phase in an ambitious, ongoing growth strategy.

Golden has seen a flurry of M&A activity in recent years. In 2017, it joined the big leagues through the transformative acquisition of American Casino & Entertainment properties, whose assets included Las Vegas’ Stratosphere Casino.

On completion of the Marnell transaction, the Enterprise, Nevada-based company will have grown its portfolio to 11 casino properties.

It already owns the Aquarius Casino Resort in Laughlin and the new deal will make it the dominant player in that sector, with a 30 percent share of the market.

Golden Rules

When combined, Golden’s three Laughlin properties will occupy 55 contiguous acres along the center of the Laughlin Riverwalk.

Around 100 miles south of Las Vegas, Laughlin is Nevada’s third-biggest gaming market and it’s growing at around four percent per year, according to Jefferies Managing Director and equity research analyst David Katz in a note on Monday. Katz said the deal is a “modest positive” in what is expected to be a “broader growth strategy” for Golden, adding that the Laughlin market was stable and undervalued.

The two properties collectively house over 1,400 slot machines, 40 table games, 2,150 hotel rooms, and 11 restaurants. Also included in the deal is the Laughlin Event Center, a 12,00-seater outdoor arena.

Golden said in a statement it will pay eight times the combined trailing 12-months earnings of the two properties, with a minimum price of $168 million and a maximum of $190 million.

Marnell on Board

Under the terms of the deal, Marnell Gaming CEO and Chairman Anthony Marnell III will become a shareholder and board member of Golden Entertainment.

The Marnell family, through its architecture firm Marnell Corrao Associates, has been instrumental in designing, building, and owning some of Nevada’s most iconic casino properties.

It built the Rio, Las Vegas’ first all-suites resort, which was sold to Harrahs in 1999, as well as The M Resort in Henderson, which sold to Penn National Gaming in 2010.

It has also had a hand in the development of Caesars Palace’s Forum Shops, The Wynn Las Vegas, and The Bellagio.

Golden is the largest tavern owner in Nevada with over 55 establishments, including PT’s, Sean Patrick’s Irish Pub & Grill, Sierra Gold, and SG Bar. In March, it announced a $140 million redevelopment of the Stratosphere.