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Boyd Gaming's Big Plans

Boyd Gaming is one of the larger locals' casino operators in Nevada.

The company operates three casinos in downtown Las Vegas – Main Street Station, the California and the Fremont – along with the Orleans and Sam's Town, among many others.

Boyd expanded into North Las Vegas last year by acquiring the Aliante, and exited the Atlantic City market after selling its stake in the Borgata.

Vice president of corporate communication at Boyd Gaming David Strow told KNPR's State of Nevada that if you drive to the area near Aliante, you'll see why the company decided to buy that property – along with the Cannery and the Eastside Cannery.

He said development has picked back up in the area and it was a logical fit for the company, which didn't have any properties in the northern section of the valley.

"We wanted to get larger and increase our presence in the Las Vegas Valley and North Las Vegas was a community where we did not have a presence," he said. "This made perfect sense to us. We were very excited by the opportunity."

He said the properties are doing very well because of the declining unemployment rate, increasing wages, more people in nearby neighborhoods and the benefit of being part of a larger collection of properties.

Besides buying those properties, Strow said Boyd has focused on bringing in new customers to some of its other properties, with improvements in its restaurant offerings and upgrades of 3,000 hotel rooms. 

"That really gives that local customer a reason to come to our properties more frequently," he said. 

The loyal customers aren't the only ones coming to Boyd properties. Strow said the company is seeing an increase in people who are not 'loyal customers.'

"We’re seeing a steady increase in cash business at these restaurants," he said. These are customers who are not using comps from player cards points. 

For years, properties on the Las Vegas Strip have seen the revenue from gambling drop, while revenue from non-gaming amenities like restaurants, shopping and spas rise. Strow said that is not the same for Boyd's off-Strip properties, but the company is "agnostic" about where growth comes from.

That's why they're pushing to update and upgrade properties.

"I think that was really a big reason for the investments that we made – to make sure that we were properly positioned in that area," Strow said. "So that as customers continued to move in that direction – towards things like restaurants, hotels room, entertainment – that we had a product that they would be comfortable spending more money on."

He was also clear that Boyd Gaming is a gaming company and, to keep up with the stiff competition in the Las Vegas Valley, it will have evolve that side of the business as well.

"People change, people evolve – it’s going to be incumbent upon us to continue to evolve and change our product as our customers evolve and change," Strow said.

Boyd Gaming once had designs on the Strip: construction was underway on its Echelon project to replace the Stardust when the Great Recession hit. Strow said the future of the company could include going back to the Strip.

"I think we’ve been clear that the Strip is a market we’ve always been interested in and, for the right opportunity, we would look at returning there," he said.

He was reluctant to say what the 'right opportunity' looked like and when it would happen, though.  

David Strow, Vice President of Corporate Communications, Boyd Gaming

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)