Station Casinos says payroll taxes, Obamacare drag on Las Vegas economy

Green Valley Ranch Station Casino

Las Vegas-based Station Casinos, operator of 15 locals casinos in Southern Nevada, majority owner of Fertitta Interactive, which operates an online poker site in the state, and managers of tribal casinos in Michigan and California, reported its third-quarter earnings today. The company is not listed on a stock exchange but has publicly traded debt.

Company: Station Casinos LLC

Revenue: $304.7 million (up 3 percent from the third quarter of 2012.) It was the best third-quarter revenue performance since 2008. The company showed improvements in casino, food and beverage, and room revenue for the quarter.

Losses: $4.7 million (company showed earnings of $7.8 million in the third quarter of 2012.) The company was happy with its improved balance sheet metrics but was most enthusiastic about last week’s opening of the Graton Resort & Casino near San Francisco and the planned start-up of online poker in New Jersey later this month.

What it means: The company blamed the state’s increased payroll tax, public fears about the effects of the Affordable Care Act and reduced work hours for a sluggish Las Vegas economy that has minimized gaming revenue.

The company’s high debt load resulted in the quarterly losses, but the company sees big opportunities in the California opening and the New Jersey online launch.

The Graton property opened with more than 3,000 slot machines, 144 table games and 18 poker tables and is the closest full-service casino to the Bay Area.

“Station Casinos would like to congratulate the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria on the successful opening of this world-class facility,” Chief Financial Officer Marc Falcone said. “Although it is very early, the initial performance of the property is exceeding our expectations by all measures.”

Partnering with Trump Taj Mahal Associates, Fertitta Interactive, Station’s online poker affiliate, plans to start in New Jersey later this month under the Ultimate Gaming brand. The company received a transactional waiver from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement allowing real-money wagering exclusively with the Trump property.

“The interactive team has been hard at work developing its platform in New Jersey and we look forward to offering a fun, convenient and secure online gaming experience to the people of New Jersey,” Falcone said.