Boyd shifts casino location in North Las Vegas

Dominant locals casino operator Station Casinos has been one of the valley’s most aggressive developers, staking out prime neighborhoods before objectors can get a foothold.

Top competitor Boyd Gaming Corp. has been less aggressive in the land acquisition game, though the company has done its best over the years to keep up.

One example is North Las Vegas, where Boyd, which owns the Coast brand, purchased 40 acres of land in 2006 for a casino. The previous year, Station had secured a partnership with American Nevada Company to build the nearby Aliante Station hotel and casino, which opens this year.

Today, Boyd announced plans to instead build a casino at Park Highlands, the master-planned community underway at the northwest corner of the Las Vegas Beltway and Losee Road, and jettison its proposed North Coast casino at the southwest corner of Centennial Parkway and Lamb Boulevard a few miles away.

The Park Highlands casino would be jointly owned with Southern Highlands developer Olympia Group and built in a fashion similar to the way Station Casinos developed the Green Valley Ranch casino in Henderson in partnership with American Nevada, which owned the land and built an adjacent retail district.

American Nevada is a real estate developer owned by the same family that owns the Las Vegas Sun.

The Park Highlands site, which isn’t yet zoned for gaming, is more favorable for the company because it’s in a busier, commercial zone with nearby homes, Boyd spokesman Rob Stillwell said.

That may be the only way Boyd can sell the plan to North Las Vegas, whose mayor has opposed zoning additional casino sites. Boyd could sell its other casino site to nongaming developers, bringing the six approved gaming sites to five.

Casinos in North Las Vegas have been hammered by the economic slowdown, with gaming revenue declines slipping into the double digits over the past couple of months.

With inexpensive homes and rapidly-growing neighborhoods that were ready targets for investors, North Las Vegas – one of the fastest-growing cities in the country – is among the many victims of the real estate bubble which is hurting spending across the valley.

But Boyd and other casino companies already are counting the months until a rebound in the housing market fueled by job-seekers for Strip projects, which some bulls expect will bolster the local casino market as soon as next year.