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Howard Stutz

Station, Boyd feud is real and compelling

16 August 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The gaming industry is fraught with feuds, real and perceived.

For example, Steve Wynn versus Sheldon Adelson or Sheldon Adelson versus anyone who disagrees with him.

A dispute between Boyd Gaming Corp. and Station Casinos executives, however, is real.

Boyd's attempt to insert itself in Station Casinos' bankruptcy inflamed the situation. It will take time for the anger to subside between the Las Vegas locals market leaders.

Boyd and Station have a history. In the late 1990s, Station Casinos opened a short-lived casino in Kansas City, Mo., that put Boyd's Kansas City version of Sam's Town out of business.

A few years later the companies were on opposite sides of a neighborhood casino issue in Spring Valley.

Disgraced Clark County Commissioner Lance Malone promised Station Casinos he would oppose a project offered by real estate developer Triple 5 that included a hotel-casino owned and operated by Boyd Gaming. The Boyd casino would compete with a planned Station project. Malone, however, switched his vote at the last minute.

A state advisory panel rejected the casino.

More than a decade later, Boyd sought revenge.

In February 2009, Boyd offered $950 million for 14 resorts when Station was financially strapped. The offer was turned down. Five months later Station Casinos filed Chapter 11.

Boyd Gaming bought some of Station's unsecured debt in November for a say in the proceedings. In December, Boyd offered to purchase all of Station Casinos for $2.45 billion, which was summarily rejected.

In April, when the initial auction price for 11 of Station Casinos' assets was set, Boyd drove up the figure by $135 million. The Fertitta family will pay $772 million to retain those properties.

"It was a smart strategy," said one insider familiar with both companies. "But you knew the Fertittas were never going to let Boyd have the casinos."

Station executives weren't happy with comments from Boyd CEO Keith Smith, who said the bidding process was unfair, due primarily to an extra $75 million an outside bidder would have paid to acquire the land underneath Texas Station.

According to court filings, Boyd sought the clarification on the "Texas Station put." The company just didn't like the final price.

Boyd and Station executives sit on boards governing the Nevada Resort Association and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. On matters such as potential tax increases, feuding executives will have to work together.

Just don't seat them at the same dinner table.
Station, Boyd feud is real and compelling is republished from