Silver Slipper owners say hotel will be ‘top priority’
By ANTHONY JAMES
Jun 12, 2012, 19:11
Supervisors met Tuesday with the new owners of the Silver Slipper Casino, and the new owners confirmed that a hotel is a top priority for the property.
In April, Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts purchased the Slipper for $70 million in a cash and financing deal.
The Silver Slipper is one of the few Mississippi casinos without a hotel, and Full House Chairman Andre Milliou said that limits the Silver Slipper's customer base to about a one-hour radius. Adding a hotel is a "primary focus" for the property, officials said.
"We're going to work very closely with (Casino Manager John Ferrucci) to expedite that," Milliou said. "I think we can grow in that particular location and a hotel will help us with that."
As for adding a hotel, Milliou and Ferrucci both said in April that it is a possibility, but Milliou said he wants to close the deal and generate revenue before any improvements are made. The Silver Slipper is one of the few casinos in the state without a hotel.
The site has room to add a hotel and plans were in place to build a hotel before the recession hit. Milliou said Full House would need to evaluate how big that hotel should be, but hotels at other Full House properties boast occupancy rates of 90 percent or better year-round.
Full House is a small, publicly-traded company that owns or operates casinos in Nevada, New Mexico and Indiana. Lee Iacocca, best known for his time at Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Corp., sits on the board.
Milliou said after the purchase in April that Full House was interested in the Silver Slipper because of the good management team in place and the business-friendly Mississippi governments.
"Full House is a small company," Ferrucci said, "and they wouldn't have done the deal if there wasn't already a good team on the ground. We have been able to succeed and thrive during a less than perfect time."
As for other changes at the Slipper, Milliou said Full House is a conservatively-run company and has only taken on debt twice in its history, so changes would come as revenues are in place to finance them.
Supervisor Steve Seymour asked if a marina would be part of the plans. Milliou said it could be a possibility, but nothing is planned now.
Milliou said Full House has been looking at buying the casino for more than two years. A previous deal fell through, but despite the Great Recession, the Silver Slipper is actually doing better now than before.
Full House made $12.59 million in profits after taxes in 2011 on more than $105.4 million in revenues, according to records filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
As a testament to the stability of the casino, Ferrucci said only six employees out of 540 employees left to work at Biloxi's new Margaritaville casino.
"Everybody is thrilled that we're going to have a clear, concrete direction," Ferrucci said, "and not be for sale anymore."