Potential Gaming Pub War Brews in Las Vegas Between Golden Entertainment and Red Rock Resorts

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Tucked within the heart and soul of the Las Vegas Valley, a veritable menu of bars, pubs, restaurants, and taverns beckon to clients with the promise of keno, slots, and video poker. Dominating this Sin City scene is Golden Entertainment, the proud proprietor of over 70 such exciting locations. But even the king of the hill may face competitors – and in Golden Entertainment’s case, this challenge may be of a familial kind.

At the hub of a potential gaming pub war is a PT’s Pub nestled cosily within Las Vegas’s sprawling suburbs. A hint of possible competition between owners Golden Entertainment and Red Rock Resorts has emerged, much like a gambler trying his luck on a crisp Nevada night. Red Rock Resorts President, Scott Kreeger, has hinted in a recent Q1 earnings conference call about considering a foray into the Las Vegas tavern industry.

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It’s an invigorating investment opportunity, said Kreeger. A unique set of customers with diverse profiles from the company’s regular clientele frequent these establishments – it’s an enticing combination of a younger crowd with a penchant for sports betting. Just his kind of customers, Kreeger warmly added.

Draw back the curtain, and a twist in the tale is revealed by Howard Stutz of The Nevada Independent – a familial connection between the potential rivals. Golden CEO Blake Sartini happens to be the brother-in-law of Red Rock CEO Frank Fertitta III and Vice Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta – Sartini’s wife Delise is a Fertitta by her maiden name.

The stage is set for an intriguing tavern showdown. It’s not about “if,” but “when” Golden and Red Rock will enter into a showdown in this arena. Red Rock already has seven tavern outlets under its belt, with two more anticipated to launch this year and the rest by 2025.

Kreeger further stated that Red Rock is eager to expand its footprint in the Las Vegas tavern scene, though remained tight-lipped about whether the Wildfire Casinos may undergo a transformation to gaming bars. The latest move by Red Rock may well mirror a comparison to Golden’s SG Bar and Sierra Gold concepts – lauded as the gold standard of the gaming bar industry.

As per Nevada’s laws, gaming taverns are categorized as restricted venues because they are allowed a maximum of 15 gaming devices. These locations, complete with bars and restaurants, create an opportunity for Red Rock to make a foray into a contained micro-market within the Las Vegas valley, according to Kreeger.

Red Rock’s status as one of Sin City’s key casino operators serving local clientele lends significant weight to its gaming bar ambitions. However, Golden has its trump cards hidden. A strong name recognition among Las Vegas residents, robust balance sheets, and a smart acquisition strategy that often sees it making the first move with gaming pubs offered for sale, give Golden an edge of its own.

Despite Red Rock’s expanding Citadel of casino hotels, which overshadows Golden’s portfolio consisting of The Strat and two Arizona Charlie’s locations, Golden is not without its strongholds. It emerges as the leading operator in Laughlin and Pahrump – two sectors in which Red Rock does not yet have a presence. Like the spin of the keno wheel, the future of the gaming pub industry in Las Vegas remains intriguingly uncertain.