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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Coast Casinos Sticks to Successful Theme for Newest Property

19 December 2005

Guests entering the $600 million South Coast on Thursday night might be struck by a sense of familiarity.

The South Coast is similar in layout to its sister property, the Suncoast, which caters to a Summerlin audience. It also contains many of the accompaniments longtime Coast customers have come to expect.

South Coast will open at 7 p.m. with an 80,000-square-foot casino, which includes 2,400 slot machines, a 60-table gaming pit, a 300-seat race and sports book and a 600-seat bingo room.

Nongaming attractions include a 64-lane bowling center and a 16-screen movie theater. Like the other Coast properties, South Coast's restaurants don't stray too far from the corporate menu mix; including a steak house, Mexican-themed eatery, an Italian establishment and an oyster bar, all with names that play off the South Coast's Southern California theme.

South Coast also has at least 80,000 square feet available for casino and restaurant expansion, and the initial 660 hotel rooms will more than double in number when a second hotel tower opens around April. The casino sits on more than 60 acres on the far south end of Las Vegas Boulevard, so additional expansion is possible.

Coast Casinos is a subsidiary of Boyd Gaming Corp., that caters predominately to Las Vegas Valley residents.

In designing the South Coast, Michael Gaughan, Coast Casino's founder and chief executive officer, said the company operated under one axiom: Don't fiddle with a successful mold.

However, there are a few twists.

"I always try to put something different into each resort," Gaughan said. "It makes them unique."

South Coast will open with 150,000 square feet of meeting and convention facilities as well as a 4,400-seat equestrian center.

The equestrian center houses show offices, an indoor warm-up arena, veterinary clinic and has cattle pens large enough for 2,000 head of cattle and 1,200 horse stalls.

Gaughan said the center, which has the ability to host 99 percent of types of equestrian competition, has already booked 22 events for 2006 and 2007.

The equestrian center can also use the hotel's convention facilities.

"We have more convention space than all the other Coast casinos combined," said Michael Gaughan Jr., the South Coast's general manager and son of the company's founder. "This will become a destination resort for people not just from California, but also all across the country. Especially with the equestrian center. It'll be the only equestrian center in the U.S. connected to a hotel. There are bigger equestrian centers, but nothing like this one."

Because of its location, the South Coast is expected to draw from the casino-void residential communities of Southern Highlands, Silverado Ranch, Anthem and other areas of the southern valley.

With an eventual complement of more than 1,200 rooms, the South Coast also expects to tap Las Vegas' hefty visitor base.

"Eventually, once we have the interchange (on Interstate 15) at Silverado Ranch, it'll be a lot easier for people from California," Gaughan said. "But when you build a property this big, you play to your key customers. You reach out and make sure you appeal to them."

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith contributed to this report.