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Monday, July 2, 2018

Margaritaville’s Winning Strategies

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Casino celebrates five successful years and announces new ownership

For its fifth birthday, Margaritaville Resort Casino Bossier City received a big present.

A new owner. June 19th – five years and four days after opening its doors – Margaritaville announced plans to sell its operations to Penn National Gaming and its real estate to VICI Properties. It’s an all-cash deal valued at $376 million.

“This is a tremendously positive outcome for our crew members, our guests and our community,” said Barry Regula, Margaritaville’s senior vice president and general manager. “Penn National Gaming offers outstanding opportunities for employees, a geographically diverse network of destination casinos for our guests, and a solid platform for potential future development to enhance the economic benefits to the community.”

The sale means Penn National – based in Wyomissing, Pa. – will eventually own two Bossier properties. Late last year, Penn National reached a deal to buy Pinnacle Entertainment Inc., the parent company of Boomtown Hotel Casino. By the end of the year, Penn National – through its subsidiaries – anticipates owning 40 casino gaming and horseracing facilities throughout the United States and in Canada.

Five years ago, Margaritaville was the new kid on the area gaming block.

Today, it is still the newest kid, but is experiencing a growth spurt.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the performance of the property,” said Regula. “When I look back, it’s hard to believe, but we’ve increased our market share by 50 percent from those first three or four months to the last three or four months.”

When Margaritaville opened in 2013, there was no such thing as a sure bet it would survive, let alone thrive.

“Back then,” Regula said, “all we were trying to do was just get open and hope somebody would come over, have a look at us, and see we were the nicest, newest place in town and what we had to offer.”

Since then, Margaritaville says more than 1.4 million people have “come over” to see what the 395-room resort and more than 30,000-square-foot casino has to offer. The resort casino entered the market at a time when, according to Regula, existing properties had gone years without making major updates.

“We showed that if you put some new products in, if you try something a little different, if you try to have a little bit different vibe, you can be successful,” Regula explained.

The “vibe” is perhaps what sets apart Margaritaville from its competitors. The property exudes a laid-back, stress-free culture, much like what Jimmy Buffet sings about in his hit song “Margaritaville.”

“We have a different feeling,” Regula said “We have a single-level gaming barge that’s wide open and spacious. We have a very bright and lively interior. Our attitude is that people are looking for escapism, and we’re trying to create that for them – sort of an island feel. It’s a casual elegance that I don’t think was here before we came into the market.”

Despite some people’s perception, Buffet does not have any ownership in Margaritaville. However, the property does lease Buffett’s name and his “Margaritaville” brand. According to the company’s website, the Bossier location is one of eight throughout the United States, Costa Rica, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. Eight more properties are listed as “Coming Soon.”

According to a Penn Gaming spokesperson, the “Margaritaville” name and brand will remain after its sale is complete.

“I think what the Jimmy Buffet name association does for us is it gives us some instant recognizability and credibility, and then the rest is up to us,” Regula said. “If you’re driving across I-20 and you see Margaritaville, you might say, ‘Let’s give that a try’.”

Five years from now, when Margaritaville turns 10, Regula expects the property to look a little different.

“We’re working on designs for expanding our hotel product with a beautiful, all-suite villa product. We’re looking at potentially expanding our gaming floor. We’re looking at adding some amenities including Big Shots Golf and working with the city to add an amphitheatre. In another five years, I think we’re the market leader in terms of hotel room product, casino product and amenities that create the ultimate in a complete resort destination experience.”

To learn more about Margaritaville, you may visit www.margaritaville.com.

– Tony Taglavore


The Forum News