Rob Sabo

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June 25, 2012
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M1 Gaming takes control at Boomtown


The new owners of Boomtown Hotel Casino, who take control of the property on Tuesday, want to grow the locals market at the same time that they aggressively market the property to Californians.

Specifically, they plan to increase entertainment offerings and revamp restaurant menus to lure more residents of the Truckee Meadows to the property at the west edge of Reno.

M1 Gaming of Las Vegas purchased the property last November from Pinnacle Entertainment for $11.2 million. The purchase included a gas station, car wash and KOA campground on about 80 acres. Pinnacle still controls about 700 acres of land at the site that could be developed in future years, says M1 Gaming President Dean DiLullo.

M1 last week won approval from the Gaming Control Board to operate the property, and DiLullo says the transition should be complete by Tuesday morning. It's the first solo venture for M1 Gaming, which is part of a partnership in Reserve Casino Hotel in Central City, Colo.

DiLullo calls Boomtown "a sleeper over the past five years."

"It is a gorgeous asset with a great location on I-80 and the Truckee River," he says. "It has got fabulous staff. It just needs attention and more aggressive marketing, and it needs to be expanded so we can take advantage of all the opportunities there."

M1's initial goal for the property, DiLullo says, it to return Boomtown to its roots, when it was favored by locals and the drive-up California market. M1 hopes to increase its presence in the northern Nevada gaming market through a strong marketing campaign on both sides of the Sierra, and it also plans on adding weekly live entertainment classic rockers Foghat and the Romantics already are booked for future dates.

"We are going to be a very guest-friendly, entertainment-based operation," DiLullo says. "There will be a lot of excitement on that side of town."

In addition to a 42,000-square-foot casino floor, Boomtown also has a 30,000-square-foot fun center, a small movie theater and a 318-room hotel. Pinnacle Entertainment in 2006 sold 28 acres of land to Cabelas, which opened a retail superstore west of the casino-hotel in 2008. The store's opening brought increased traffic from outdoors enthusiasts to the area, but it also loosened ties with a large group of big-rig truck drivers who used to use the large vacant land adjacent to Boomtown to layover during long hauls.

That, coupled with weakness gaming revenues through the region, led to losses in Reno for Pinnacle. In 2010, the last full year for which it broke out results on the Reno hotel-casino, publicly held Pinnacle reported a profit of $445,000 and revenues of $39.8 million at Boomtown Reno. That came on the heels of a $2.6 million loss and revenues of $39.1 million in 2009.

However, DiLullo feels that the best days of Boomtown may be in its future. M1 will aggressively market the property to Californians, he says, but the biggest potential for revenue growth lies in the local market. To increase the guest experience at the property, M1 plans to retain key staff currently and plans on hiring as many as 320 new workers, DiLullo says.

"It has a lot of potential. There is a tremendous amount of revenue in all aspects of the project's operation," he says. "We want to grow and maintain our tourist base and significantly grow our local following. We plan to do that with loose and competitive slots, aggressive casino marketing and frequent headline entertainment.

"We are a casino first, though, with a lot of great amenities. We are going to make this the ultimate gambling place in Reno."


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Northern Nevada Business Weekly Updated Jun 25, 2012 12:00AM Published Jun 25, 2012 12:00AM Copyright 2012 Northern Nevada Business Weekly. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.