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Station Casinos spending millions to upgrade its oldest, newest properties

Station Casinos is completing part of its $200 million renovation of Palace Casino (left) and planning a $500 million upgrade to the Palms. (KSNV)

It's Bob Johnston's usual perch: A Palace Station slot machine.

“I'm a regular here. I play here three to four times a week,” he told me.

Bob's favorite resort is changing all around him.

“I like it. It's getting bigger and better and better,” he said, in between sipping his favorite beverage, which sat next to him.

Station Casinos is spending nearly $200 million on a face-lift for the property that launched it into the locals market 41 years ago. In 1976, company patriarch Frank Fertitta Jr. opened The Casino, which later became Bingo Palace, which later transformed into a railroad-themed resort in the early ’80s. Now, Palace Station is entering its new era: more modern and hip.

“Palace Station is being redone from head-to-toe,” says Lori Nelson, Station Casino’s vice president of corporate communications.

And Nelson isn't kidding: A new casino, along with a new bingo hall, which opening last spring.

“It's beautiful, it's spacious, it's modern, it's clean. Everything about it is great,” bingo player Chris Michaels told me when I first visited the new hall last May.

Outside, construction is now in full swing, a tip-off to the other work that’s underway: two new restaurants – BBD’s, (beers, burgers and deserts), and Boathouse Asian Eatery, along with an upscale nine-screen theater, the new home of Station's Feast Buffet, and a new resort-style pool. All work is expected to be finished by late 2018.

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Situated just a few blocks from the Strip, Station Casinos hopes tourists notice, too.

“It's strategic location off Sahara just west of I-15 really lends itself nicely that if you create a product that's appealing to both locals and tourists alike, you can really capitalize on the fabulous location,” Nelson told me, as her company hopes Palace Station’s proximity brings it Strip business.

Palace Station isn’t the only company property undergoing a massive makeover. In May 2016, Station Casinos bought the Palms for $313 million, a resort that opened in 2001 targeting a younger customer but which was buffeted by the recession. In its third quarter conference call last week, Station Casinos announced a $485 million renovation.

“A lot of new entertainment, culinary and nightlife is coming to the Palms,” Nelson tells me.

Among the culinary attractions will be offerings from celebrity chefs James Beard and Bobby Flay. The $485 million will also include renovations of hotel rooms, a newly refreshed casino and new clubs.

For the company, The Palms is already paying off, as it enjoys its closest resort to the heart of the Strip.

Station’s 3rd Quarter Las Vegas revenue jumped 16 percent, thanks to the millions The Palms is earning.

Back at Palace Station, customer Marge Boyle’s financial results aren't looking so bad, either.

“I mean, I won at bingo, $150. I've been winning on the machines at least $120. I love Palace Station,” said the resort regular.

After all, what's not to love when you're winning?

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