Pennsylvania-based casino operator Penn National Gaming, licensed by Nevada gaming regulators last June, has made its first big move into the Las Vegas market with the purchase last month of the two-year-old M Resort.
As part of the deal, which keeps M Resort’s management team in place, Penn National will acquire the property’s debt at a nearly 75 percent discount. Since the beginning of the year, Penn has acted as M’s marketing partner, touting it as a destination to its database of about 2.2 million customers.
The partnership has already shown signs of success. The company told the Gaming Control Board that M Resort added more than 1,300 room nights in the first quarter of 2011, increasing occupancy by almost 4 percent at the 390-room hotel-casino.
“We mailed out some 150,000 mail pieces to our customers,” Penn National President Tim Wilmott said after the control board gave preliminary approval to the takeover. “The property gives our regional customers a great Las Vegas gaming experience.”
Wilmott also told regulators that the company, which operates nearly 20 casinos and racetracks in regional markets, “likes the management we have on the ground,” including Anthony Marnell III, who built M Resort for nearly $1 billion and opened the hotel-casino in March 2009.
Marnell will continue in his role as president of the property, and noted that the alliance with Penn allows M Resort to operate with more financial flexibility. In the first quarter, M Resort had revenues of $39.8 million and cash flow of $6.2 million, both slight increases from the same quarter a year ago.
“This is a phenomenal position for M Resort to be in,” Marnell told regulators. “I don’t think we could find ourselves with a better company and resources, especially a company that wants to be in Las Vegas.”