Last week Red Rock Resorts (parent company of Station Casinos) announced that they were purchasing Palms Casino Resort of $312 million. Palms should become a Station Casinos property in the third quarter this year (the fourth quarter at the latest). According to a representative on their recent earnings call the purchase of Palms casino resorts will give Station Casinos much better access to an area of Las Vegas where there Boarding Pass players club lags members.
Palms Fit With Station Casinos
In addition to their properties scattered around the Vegas suburbs, Station Casinos now has a property just off the north and central segments of the Vegas Strip with Palace Station and Palms, respectively. Conceptually, Palms fits nicely into the Station Casinos model. When Palms first opened in 2001 it became a hotspot for celebrities and tourists but it has another side many tourists don’t know about.
Palms has always been a two-faced casino. One side of the property was geared towards tourists while another was equal as appealing to locals. Like many other locals casinos, the parking areas at Palms allow customers to enter away from the tourists. The “locals” entrance is near the sports book, movie theater and food court. This allows people who live in the area quick access to parts of the casino that they might want to access more regularly. There are tourists that don’t even acknowledge or care that Palms has a movie theater. That’s not the “VEGAS BABY!” experience they’re looking for.
Red Rock Resort (the casino, not the parent company) and Green Valley Ranch offer similar experiences for their guests. It’s possible to visit those properties and never see where parts of the property where tourists and guests stay.
Hotspots in Las Vegas change regularly and Palms isn’t as popular as it once was with celebrities and mainstream media. Palms was always a destination for a night when I was a tourist. That changed over time and it’s felt like more of a locals casino since I moved to Las Vegas 5 years ago. There’s nothing wrong with that in my eyes but the experience is not quite the same.
Don’t Expect Major Changes At Palms
So, Palms will become a Station Casino property later this year. Don’t expect many immediate changes to the property beyond the integration of a new players club. In the past 5 years or so, Palms has renovated their hotel rooms, pool and restaurants. There may be some legal partnership changes to the restaurants but there isn’t a physical need for an immediate makeover.
Red Rock Resorts representatives alluded that they taking a wait and see approach with Palms on this on their recent earnings call. It seems as if something needs to be changed they’ll take note and make the appropriate changes. This is a similar tactic that we see right now from Penn National at Tropicana and we’ve heard from Boyd Gaming about their recent purchases of Aliante and Cannery Casinos.
The most significant change to Palms casino resorts when Station Casinos takes over operations might happen to the sports book, which is currently operated by CG Technology. Station Casinos operates their own sports books so it might take some negotiation for them to take over the space that’s probably leased for a while. If there is a change it would likely be operational, not cosmetic. Neither CG Technology or Station Casinos had any information to offer when I inquired about this.
Boarding Pass Players Club
The Boarding Pass players club isn’t the most well-rounded loyalty program since it doesn’t offer points and rewards for spending beyond gambling. Maybe Palms will be the catalyst for Station Casinos to modernize their players club to be more tourist friendly and rewards customers for all spending.
After all, the most popular casino operators with tourists – MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Sands (Venetian & Palazzo), Cosmopolitan, etc. – all have players clubs that reward for all spending. This would be a huge change for Station Casinos but there’s no inclination that this might happen.
Building Another Station?
Station Casinos may not be done expanding. Their recent IPO of Red Rock Resorts may give the company extra cash flow to build an entirely new property. They still own the following plots of land.
- 70-acre site near the intersection of Durango Road and the 215 Beltway
- 58 acres near the intersection of Flamingo Road and the 215 Beltway
- 45 acres on Via Inspirada near Bicentennial Parkway in Henderson
- 30 acres at the intersection of Boulder Highway and Oakey Boulevard
- 76 acres next to Wild Wild West, which is on a 20-acre site near Tropicana Boulevard & I-15
This is just a list of where Station Casinos owns land. There hasn’t been any speculation or rumor if their next expansion will be on one of these sites or if there will be another acquisition. If I’m going to speculate, it would be interesting to see Station Casinos build next to the Wild Wild West site and near the Vegas Strip. This would give them a solid hotel-casino near the south, center (Palms) and north (Palace Station) ends of the Vegas Strip. Station Casinos could become the go to casino brand for visitors looking to avoid increasing prices on the Vegas Strip.
The acquisition of Palms Casino Resort seems to make a lot of sense for Station Casinos and it opens up a lot of potential for the company’s future. Red Rock Resort is my home casino so I’ll be keeping a close eye on developments as I may soon have a new place to call home.
Photo: Flickr/Tony Webster