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LAS VEGAS-”Terrible’s” casinos operator Herbst Gaming has closed on its $400-million acquisition of three casinos in Primm, NV, which sits on the California border 40 miles south of the Las Vegas Strip. The Buffalo Bill’s, Primm Valley and Whiskey Pete’s hotel-casinos were acquired from MGM Mirage in a deal that was first announced in November.

Collectively known as Primm Valley Resorts, the group totals 2,644 guest rooms, 136,000 sf of casino space, 2,816 slot machines, three gas stations and a convenience store on 143 acres. Not included in the deal is MGM Mirage’s Primm Valley Golf Club, which Herbst will manage for MGM.

MGM Mirage acquired the Primm Valley Resorts portfolio in March 1999 as part of its acquisition of Primadonna Resorts Inc. Substantially all of the Primm Valley properties sit on a ground lease that, including extension options, expires in 2068, according to MGM Mirage’s latest annual report.

The acquisition takes Herbst Gaming’s portfolio from five casinos to eight. Three of the casinos are located in Missouri and Iowa and the rest are located in Nevada. In January, Herbst completed its $135-million (cash and debt) acquisition of Reno, NV-based Sands Regent, which owns and operates a total of four gaming properties, all in Nevada. Its premier asset is the 833-room Sands Regency Casino and Hotel in Downtown Reno.

In addition to unloading its Primm Valley properties, MGM also is selling its properties on the Colorado River in Laughlin, NV, which sits at the very bottom of the state on both the California and Arizona borders. The $200-million sale of its Colorado Belle and Edgewater hotel-casinos there to a group led by Vegas developer Anthony Marnell III was announced in October and is expected to close in the coming weeks.

“These are non-core assets; our focus as a company, at least in Nevada, is in Las Vegas,” an MGM source told GlobeSt.com at the time of the announcement, referring to its multi-billion CityCenter development on the Las Vegas Strip, which got under way in June.

While its focusing on Vegas, MGM will be keeping one eye on Jean, NV, where it owns two casinos and two gas stations on 166 acres straddling Interstate 15 approximately 30 miles south of Las Vegas and 10 miles from the California border. The company announced in February that it is selling a 50% stake in its portfolio there for $75 million and is gearing a master-planned redevelopment of the site that will close at least one of the casinos.

The Jean, NV portfolio includes the 302-room Nevada Landing property, the 800-room Gold Strike Hotel and Casino and two gas stations/rest stops catering to truckers. The portfolio came with MGM’s April 2005 acquisition of the Mandalay Resort Group. MGM’s would-be new partner is Jeanco Realty Development LLC, which includes American Nevada Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of American Nevada Corp., and Diamond Resorts LLC, a subsidiary of Cloobeck Cos. The partnership is subject to state gaming approvals; the transaction is anticipated to close later this year.

The Jean, NV redevelopment would include a brand new casino-resort and a new residential component as well as upgraded truck stations. To make room, MGM says it will shut down the Nevada Landing property, which opened in 1989. It’s not yet clear whether the Gold Strike will shut down once a new casino-resort is developed on the property.

“I can’t say I’d be surprised if it were to work out that way,” an MGM source told GlobeSt.com in February, explaining that the area at this time is more efficiently served with one casino. “It’s also possible (Nevada Landing) could be rebranded or built into something bigger. We will do whatever we determine is in the best interest of the joint venture.”

As per the partnership agreement, MGM Mirage would contribute to a new partnership of the property and the associated assets, which currently generate $6 million in annual cash flow, and Jeanco Realty Development would contribute $75 million cash in two separate contributions.

American Nevada Co. is the real estate development arm of the Greenspun group of companies. American Nevada began developing the 8,400-acre Green Valley community in Henderson in 1978. In 2004, it opened the District at Green Valley Ranch, the state’s first metropolitan lifestyle center. American Nevada also is the managing partner of Aliante, a master-planned community that opened in 2003.

The Cloobeck Cos. provides development, management, operations and marketing for real estate properties. The company’s principals have developed Polo Towers, the first purpose built, high-rise timeshare property in the industry and, most recently, spearheaded the design of Marriott’s $450-million Grand Chateau.

MGM Mirage owns and operates 23 properties located in Nevada, Mississippi and Michigan. In addition to CityCenter, its current major developments include a new MGM Grand hotel and casino complex is being built in Downtown Detroit and a 50% interest in MGM Grand Macau, a hotel-casino resort currently under construction in the Macau S.A.R. of China.

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