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Best of Chris Sieroty

Gaming Guru

Chris Sieroty

Wynn, Pinnacle announce marketing alliance

11 March 2011

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. may not own a casino in Las Vegas, but the casino operator has reached a deal with Wynn Resorts Ltd. giving its high rollers access to Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Resort.

Pinnacle Entertainment, which announced the deal Wednesday, said the alliance with Wynn would play a key role in the April 4 relaunch of the company's "mychoice" player loyalty program.

"This relationship will be beneficial to us because Pinnacle will send their very best customers for multi-day stays exclusively at Wynn properties," said Michael Weaver, Wynn Resorts' senior vice president of marketing strategy.

The companies did not disclose terms of the deal. Weaver said the deal was exclusive to the company's Las Vegas properties and did not include Wynn Resorts' hotel-casino in Macau.

Pinnacle Entertainment has about 1 million customers in its database, 20,000 of which would now qualify for Wynn Resorts' reward program.

The alliance with Wynn Resorts gives Pinnacle Entertainment a presence on the Strip, while being able to attract new customers to its loyalty program.

Wells Fargo Securities senior analyst Carlo Santarelli noted the deal will let Pinnacle reward its top players with a Las Vegas experience without having to outlay the capital required to build, buy or maintain a Las Vegas asset.

Pinnacle Entertainment Chief Marketing Officer Ginny Shanks said the company had been thinking about approaching Wynn Resorts for a while, but serious talks began in October.

The Wynn trips would be offered at its highest three tiers after its mychoice loyalty program is relaunched, she said. The new benefit for each member is a four-day, three-night stay in Las Vegas, which they can book within the next 12 months.

Wednesday's announcement sent shares of both companies higher on Wall Street and analysts expected the market agreement to benefit both Pinnacle Entertainment and Wynn Resorts.

"Given Pinnacle's positioning in its markets, we believe the arrangement provides Pinnacle with a distinct competitive advantage," Santarelli said in a note to clients. "While the benefit to Wynn is certainly less tangible, we do believe adding an additional stream of casino customers will be positive."

He expected this deal to be the first in a series of announcements regarding incremental benefits Pinnacle will be able to provide its tiered customers under the mychoice program.

"We view this as a positive development for Pinnacle given that this agreement will continue to cement the high-end customer market for Pinnacle in locations such as St. Louis and Lake Charles, La.," Macquarie Equities Research analyst Chad Beynon said in a note to clients.

Pinnacle Entertainment, which is based in Las Vegas, operates seven casinos in Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana and Reno. The company also operates a racetrack in Ohio and is developing a $357 million casino in Baton Rouge, La., that is scheduled to open early next year.