|By Howard Stutz, Las Vegas
Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 18, 2007 - Two of Laughlin's largest casinos will change ownership by the beginning of June, but Anthony Marnell III, who is taking over the two properties, isn't ready to proclaim himself the savior of the Colorado River gaming community.
Nevada gaming regulators gave Marnell and his investment group permission Thursday to acquire the Colorado Belle and Edgewater from MGM Mirage for $200 million. Immediately, Marnell said his up and coming casino management company will spend $22 million to upgrade the casino floors at the side-by-side Laughlin casinos, which make up a large chunk of the overall market.
"We have new slot machines sitting on trucks and ready to be moved in," Marnell said after the Nevada Gaming Commission voted 4-0 in favor of the transaction, agreeing with the recommendation of the Gaming Control Board two weeks ago.
"We have a strong belief in the long-term viability of Laughlin market and we believe these two casinos are in a tremendous location to capitalize," Marnell said. "What we are planning for the two casinos will help Laughlin tremendously."
The Colorado Belle and Edgewater, originally built by Circus Circus Enterprises, the predecessors to the Mandalay Resort Group, combine for 2,535 hotel rooms and 138,000 square feet of casino space. Marnell said much of the slot- machine floor's 2,224 games will be replaced or retrofitted to include coinless ticket in-ticket out technology.
"It should take us about a month to get the new slot system implemented and the machines changed out," Marnell said. "We have a lot of work to do through out the casino floor but we're a team that isn't going to sit back. We're used to diving right in."
Laughlin's gaming revenues increased 1.6 percent in 2006 over 2005, however, the gaming is down about 2 percent for the first three months of 2007.
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