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And The Next Item Up For Bid: The Sahara Hotel and Casino

By Chuckmonster on Thursday, 21st September 2006 12:57am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 5


Norm Clarke in today's Review-Journal is reporting that a deal is in the works for the Bennett family to sell the Sahara Hotel and Casino. He goes on to say that the deal will be worth around $1B dollars. The question isn't "will" or "when" the Sahara will be sold - that's a given - but "who." There are many plausible suspects for a Sahara bid, and from the information we've gathered (and a little of our own secret sauce added) here's a run down of who the possible suitors may be, in order of probability.

Pinnacle Entertainment

Pinnacle wants into Vegas really really bad. After losing their takeover bid of Aztar (owners of The Tropicana Vegas and Atlantic City properties) Pinnacle snapped up the aging Sands AC for a puny $250 Million dollars - $75M of which came from Aztar as a result of their deal breaker agreement. Pinnacle's top brass toured the Sahara in the final days of the Aztar deal, probably after they decided to tap out. If the asking price for the Sahara is $1B (as reported by Norm Clarke), and the new Sands AC costs $1.5 B to build - Pinnacle will have gotten their AC and Vegas properties for just about the same price as they would've paid for the Tropicana, and one resort would be brand spanking new. This makes perfect sense, and is our guess on how we think the chips are gonna fall. Our odds: 3-1


Ameristar Casinos are a riverboat operator with 7 properties scattered about the Middle of America. Riverboat operators are all looking for a foothold in Vegas and AC. These properties are used as carrot incentives to get players to play, and lose more. Ameristar was in the Aztar fray for a while as well, but petered out when the bidding tipped over the $1B mark. It should also be noted that the person who was heading up Harrah's currently unannounced development plan, jumped the Harrah's ship to head up the Ameristar growth division in August - part of the reason why Harrah's announcement has been delayed (source: Q&A with Harrah's CFO Johathan Halkyard). Will Ameristar bite? Possibly. Our odds: 4-1

Colony Capital

Colony Capital - owners of the Las Vegas Hilton, recently snapped up numerous properties that fellout of the Harrah's/Caesars merger - Hilton Atlantic City, Harrah's East Chicago, Harrah's Tunica and Bally's Tunica. Colony Capital also threw their hat into the Aztar bidding war for a short period of time, but quickly jumped out. Colony Capital has a history of purchasing under performing gaming properties and transforming them to turn neat properties - the Las Vegas Hilton being a perfect example of this. Will Colony Capital be willing to shell out $1B for the Sahara is a big question - they want a Strip facing property and the North end of the Strip is the viable real estate left. Our odds: 6-1

Riviera Acquisitions Inc.

This group of investors was rejected for their lowball bid for the Riviera a few weeks ago, so it makes some kind of sense that they might want to take another stab at a Strip property before they dissolve their company. If they lowballed the Riv, they probably don't have the loot to make a play for the much better and slightly larger parcel of land (if you count "The Drive" out back). Long shot. Our odds: 22-1

Poster Financial - (Tim and Tom formerly of the Golden Nugget)

Tim and Tom made a sweet profit from their purchase and subsequent sale of the Golden Nugget a few years ago. These two knuckleheads love the gambling game and, with some partners, could probably scrape up the cabbage to take over the Sahara. Sahara was bandied about as a possible target of their takeover right after they sold the Nug. The Sahara has some serious swinging vibes and with a little bit of care and attention could be made over to accentuate a party atmosphere. Will this happen? Very, very doubtful - but at least worth a mention. Our odds: 40-1



Comments & Discussion:

I don't care who picks it up as long as they get rid of that damn rip-off roller coaster out front.....

agreed. that NASCAR crap is a disgrace.

There is word that Trump is itching for a spot on the strip.

But guys if it is pinnacle. They offer the worst gaming around. I have visited a couple of their properties. In almost every market they are in they are the most profitable. They dont offer anything close to a good game in their casinos. So to compete in Vegas they will have to change.

Trump can itch all he wants, with the financial state Trump's gaming company has been in for the last 5 years, I find it doubtful that he'll be in Vegas any time soon. He is a dealmaker so we can't rule him out. He does have a NV gaming license, though... and he bought a decent sized chunk of the Riviera then dumped it when their stock price jumped a coupla years ago.

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