A Nevada gaming company has won the bidding process to buy the Lakeside riverboat casino in Osceola and two Missouri casinos from the estate of William Grace — who died in April. The Herbst Gaming company will pay two-hundred-87-million dollars for the Osceola casino, and casinos in St. Joseph and La Grange, Missouri. Herbst Chief Financial Officer Mary Higgins talked about the sale Wednesday in a conference call with investors. She says Lakeside and the other casinos have a lot of potential. Higgins says the three casinos are on a “pretty good growth clip” and the stability of their revenues really make this deal “pretty nice.” She says the properties don’t have very up-to-date casino floors, and she says their strength of management should produce some “nice upside for us.” Lakeside took in nearly 61-million dollars in the fiscal year that ended June 30th. Higgins says Lakeside’s revenues are more than 50-percent of the total package of the three, and she says they expect some upgrades would help that potential even more.She says Lakeside has “just a tremendous amount of potential.” While Higgins says they plan to make some changes at the casinos, she isn’t sure if they’ll start marketing the casinos with the Herbst cowboy logo. Higgins says she doesn’t know yet, as the casinos have a pretty good presence in the small communities. But she says, “you know we love that cowboy.” Higgins says her company took into account the possibility Des Moines could land a competing riverboat casino.She says they’ve done about as much due diligence on that issue as they can, and there are conflicting reports as to the likelihood Des Moines would get a new gambling boat. Three Des Moines-area organizations joined forces yesterday to try to keep a riverboat casino out of Polk County. The non-profit group that manages the Prairie Meadows casino, the Polk County Board of Supervisors and the Greater Des Moines Partnership — a business group — yesterday joined together in stating opposition to a riverboat casino for Des Moines. Higgins says another casino in Polk County wouldn’t cripple Lakeside. She says her company has been in “tremendously more competitive environments,” and she says even the state report on the placement of a new casino and it’s impact on existing casinos doesn’t show there’d be a dramatic impact. Higgins also says “there’s a fairly tremendous backlash from the Prairie Meadows location, and we’ll let them fight some fights for a while. They’re doing a good job.” The sale of Lakeside must still be approved by state regulators — which Higgins says could take about five months.
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