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Full House Resorts scouts northern Nevada purchases

John Seelmeyer

Even though its flagship Stockman’s Casino in Fallon has seen soft revenues in recent months, Full House Resorts is looking to buy more gaming properties in northern Nevada.

Executives of the company headquartered at Las Vegas say there’s no shortage of properties available for sale in northern Nevada, and owners appear to be reducing their expectations when they set prices.

“It will not be a summer of plenty,” says Andre Hilliou, the chief executive officer of Full House Resorts. “The reality is sinking in slowly.”

Small casino operators in the region, he says, often post strong numbers during the summer and rely on summer revenues to carry them through the rest of the year. A slow summer may force some operators to throw in the towel.

Hilliou says Full House is studying possible acquisitions of groups of casinos as well as individual properties in northern Nevada, and it’s looking at transactions amounting to less than $20 million each.

Only a handful of other companies are shopping for gaming properties in the region, Hilliou says.

The company bought the Stockman’s Casino in Fallon in early 2007, and executives of the company acknowledged that they, too, have struggled in the northern Nevada market in recent months.

Revenues for the second quarter at Stockman’s totaled $4.2 million, down 7 percent from the comparable quarter a year earlier.

Mark Miller, senior vice president and chief financial officer of publicly held Full House Resorts, told securities analysts a few days ago that profits at Stockman’s fell to about $600,000 in the second quarter from approximately $900,000 a year earlier.

The problems? For one, the soft tourism market that’s troubled gaming properties throughout northern Nevada.

But Stockman’s also suffered because of a relatively low level of activity at the nearly Naval Air Station Fallon in the spring and early summer, said Miller.

It’s difficult to plan for swings in business that accompany the start and stop of major activities at the Naval Air Station, Miller said, because the military is close-mouthed about its plans.

He said the company is focused on cost control at Stockman’s including what he called “a few modest changes” in the number of employees and is reviewing its marketing programs to ensure they’re effective.

He said revenues at the property in mid-summer were recovering to last

year’s levels.