Laughlin, the booming Nevada gambling town on the Colorado River 90 miles south of Las Vegas, is getting another major hotel-casino. Bristol Gaming Corp. announced plans Thursday to start construction of a 900-room resort there at an estimated cost of about $90 million.
The project would be the first casino for Bristol, a Las Vegas holding company. For years it has held a major stake in Jackpot Enterprises Inc., which owns and operates slot machines in large supermarkets and other high-volume retail stores in Las Vegas and Reno.
Neil Rosenstein, chief executive of both publicly traded firms, also heads Los Angeles-based Peregrine Entertainment Ltd., a distributor of feature films, syndicated television shows and home-video programming. Peregrine also is publicly traded.
Rosenstein said the company is considering bringing in as a partner some large hotel operator "with a large (room) reservation system."
"What we'd like to do down there," he added, "is to continue the theme of the whole area."
He noted that the seven existing hotel-casinos in Laughlin largely feature variations on a Western desert motif along with low-priced lodging and food.
Southern California and Arizona provide a large proportion of Laughlin's visitors, most of whom travel there by car, recreational vehicle and bus. In addition, so-called snow birds flock to its mild winter climate from the Midwest. Laughlin as yet has no scheduled airline service.
The newest hotel-casino in Laughlin is the Colorado Belle, which Circus Circus Enterprises opened last July in the shape of a giant Mississippi River paddle-wheeler. Circus Circus, which also has casinos in Las Vegas and Reno, has indicated that it is now getting more than a third of its revenue from the Colorado Belle.
$500,000 Purchase Price
Two other casino-hotels are under construction in Laughlin, one by Ramada using a Victorian railroad terminal theme and the other by Harrah's with a Mexican theme.
Bristol said the seven-acre site of its proposed hotel-casino is on a lagoon of the Colorado River. The company bought the land in 1979 for $560,000, a fraction of its present market value, Rosenstein said.
"For their efforts in connection with the acquisition of the property," the company in 1980 provided for payments to two individuals, according to a Bristol 10-K report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. If Bristol builds and operates a hotel-casino on the Laughlin property, each is entitled to buy 5% of its equity in the property for $1, which would require approval of the Nevada Gaming Commission. If the land is sold, they would get 5% of the profit.
Rosenstein identified the two as Bernard Shapiro and Bernard Chandler. Shapiro was the owner of one of the slot machine route businesses acquired by Jackpot in 1981. Chandler was a Jackpot executive who, Rosenstein said, was "instrumental" in locating the site.