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Arnold M. Knightly

PT's owners add casino

28 November 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Local tavern and slot route operator Golden Gaming on Tuesday expanded its casino business with an agreement to purchase the Saddle West hotel and casino in Pahrump for an undisclosed amount.

The hotel-casino is owned by a partnership between Anthony Marnell III and Sher Gaming. It will be the fifth casino owned and operated by a company better known for its taverns operated under the PT's brand. The deal is scheduled to close by the summer.

The 30-acre Saddle West is located nearly 55 miles west of Las Vegas near the intersection of Route 372 and Highway 160.

The property, which includes 155 hotel rooms, a 12,000-square-foot casino and an 80-space recreational vehicle park, is three miles from Golden Gaming's 38-acre Pahrump Nugget, which the company acquired in November 2006.

"The attraction for us there is we're committed to the Pahrump market," said Blake Sartini, Golden Gaming's founder, president and chief executive officer. "We believe in the strength of the market. We see a lot of potential for future resort development on the two pieces of property."

The Saddle West has nearly eight acres of undeveloped land. The Pahrump Nugget has 22 undeveloped acres.

Marnell and Sher Gaming, which also owns the Edgewater and Colorado Belle in Laughlin, acquired the property in June 2006 and invested nearly $7 million in the property.

Marnell, who is developing the $1 billion M Resort that is scheduled to open in 2009 on the south Strip, said he never expected to sell the property so fast.

However, casual conversations with his friend Sartini led to the transaction.

"The opportunity arose and it sounded like a good deal for everybody so we did it," Marnell said. "It does help us focus on the two bigger assets we've got and get ready to open a billion-dollar project a year-and-a-half out."

Golden Gaming also owns three casinos in Black Hawk, Colo., and has proposed a $600 million resort in eastern Kansas that would include an 18-hole golf course designed by Tom Watson.

The company also owns 45 taverns in Nevada and operates the Hard Rock Hotel's casino under a two-year licensing agreement.