The potential acquisition of Station Casinos was one of a numberof topics that Smith covered in the fourth-quarter earningsconference call, in which he noted that the company has beenpursuing the Station property for more than a year and he said thatBoyd is seeing signs of economic recovery in Las Vegas. "Thequestion remains not if, but when," the Boyd chief said of therecovery. "The good news for Las Vegas is that signs of thisrecovery are beginning to show here. Last Vegas monthly visitationhas grown for four consecutive months showing that this cityremains an extremely popular tourist destination."

To some extent, the incipient recovery in Las Vegas parallelsthe early signs of a recovery nationally, Smith pointed out. Henoted that, during the fourth quarter, the US economy remained weakand unemployment remained high and consumers continued to spendcarefully. "Looking forward, however, we are seeing early signsthat a recovery is under way despite the fact that the nationaleconomic forecast remains uncertain," he said.

Smith also pointed out that many of Boyd's fellow gamingindustry firms "have described cautious optimism about theprospects for recovery on the Las Vegas Strip in 2010." Recoveryalong the strip, aka Las Vegas Boulevard, "is the heart of oureconomy and a recovery in business along the Las Vegas Strip iscrucial to us as a significant portion of our customer base is tiedeither directly or indirectly to its economic vitality," Smithsaid.

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