Red Rock Has Gaming Tavern Plans, Will Have Family Competition

Giant Las Vegas-based locals casino resort operator Red Rock Resorts (flagship venue pictured) will be opening up some smaller-scale gambling-bar-restaurant venues across Nevada. The venues are officially known as gaming taverns. 

However, that space is already dominated by one competitor, Golden Entertainment, owned by Blake Sartini, the brother-in-law of Red Rock’s owners, the billionaire brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. 

Sartini married Frank and Lorenzo’s sister, Delise, in 1983. Their family relationship seems close, too, as one of the Sartini’s children is called Lorenzo. That could make for some awkward family gatherings, especially if Red Rock’s superior financial clout helps it to quickly usurp Golden Entertainment in the space.

Red Rock Resorts President Scott Kreeger spoke on the gaming tavern plans during the quarterly company investment call earlier this month. 

“It’s a great place to invest in,” Kreeger said. 

“It’s a unique customer with a different profile than our core customer. So, it skews younger and skews toward the sports bettor. We like that kind of customer.”

Gaming Taverns

Gaming taverns in Nevada cannot offer more than 15 slot machines. The niche is currently dominated by Golden Entertainment, which runs 71 of the bar-restaurant-gambling establishments in Nevada. The majority are in the Las Vegas metro area. 

Red Rock already runs its own smaller casino establishments. They have a focus on slots — they can run up to 200 under the law. 

It has seven of these in Las Vegas under its Wildfire brand. Most were older gambling venues that closed, and Red Rock snapped them up to retain the license. 

Speculation is Red Rock could downgrade the gambling in some of those venues, but upgrade the dining and entertainment facilities to move into the gaming tavern space. 

“We think it’s an opportunity for us to kind of expand into what we call the micro-market within the valley,” Kreeger said on the earnings call. 

Competitive Families 

The two related companies will soon butt heads in the gaming tavern space. 

Golden also operates eight other full-scale casinos, including its main business The Strat Hotel, Casino and Tower on the Las Vegas Strip. It also has a casino in Laughlin, Nevada. 

It pulled in $140 million in revenues from its full Nevada casinos in the first quarter of 2024.

Red Rock, meanwhile, has stayed out of the wider Nevada and Las Vegas Strip markets in favor of focusing on locals- oriented casinos.

It owns seven full Nevada casinos, with more than 15,000 slot machines and 300 table games between them. That includes the newly opened Durango Casino Resort and its flagship, Red Rock Casino.

Red Rock’s seven full casinos recorded operating revenue of $485 million in the first quarter of this year. So, should they end up competing directly for long, it would give Red Rock a considerable financial advantage. But Golden has made the first move and is the established brand. 

To add further to the familial ties (classic Las Vegas), there were several updates recently on Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta’s planned Las Vegas Strip casino resort. He is the Fertitta’s cousin.

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