Dan Lee Is The Man With The Plams
» filed under Las Vegas tagged: palms dan lee rio gold coast steve wynn pinnacle entertainment mirage loveman comments: 14
Late last week, The Palms abruptly changed management, sending post-Maloof property president Joe Magliarditi to the cleaners and appointing deposed Pinnacle Entertainment CEO Dan Lee in his spot. Magliarditi was the man responsible for the full scale property refresh and rebranding undertaken by TPG Capital and Leonard Green and Partners since they wrestled control of the property from cash strapped visionary George Maloof in 2011.
Under Magliarditi, Palms refreshed their hotel room product, upgraded interior spaces, swapped out bars & restaurants and had begun a major refresh of its sagging nightlife venues. Pioneered by Maloof, nightlife/daylife were Palms' bread and butter but are now as ubiquitous as... well... bread and butter, but with even more cutthroat competition. In addition to appealing to tourists with a penchant for partying, Palms' pitchfork dove deeply into the wallets of the locals market by offering the best video poker pay tables and slots in town.
While the renovation and refocused branding of The Palms has been very well received by guests, it has fallen short of its goal - restore the Palms to its once glorious distinction as being THE joint in town.
Enter Dan Lee.
What? Yes, that Dan Lee. The former Wall Street analyst turned Steve Wynn acolyte who was Chief Financial Officer during the heady days of Mirage Resorts. That Dan Lee. The very same Dan Lee who silently orchestrated a massive covert operation of false corporations and holding companies that bought up every sliver of land between Bellagio and Monte Carlo without raising suspicions of land owners or driving up prices. That Dan Lee. The very same Dan Lee who transformed an inconsequential gaming company Hollywood Park Entertainment into publicly traded powerhouse Pinnacle Entertainment. That Dan Lee. The very same Dan Lee who bid up the price of Aztar's sale of the Las Vegas Tropicana so high that eventual winner Columbia-Sussex collapsed under the debt and mis-management, while Pinnacle walked away with a cool $300 million break up fee. That Dan Lee. The very same Dan Lee who purchased the Sands Atlantic City from financier Carl Icahn, which was promptly closed, imploded and carted away while he spearheading another campaign to buy up surrounding properties that he hoped would eventually become Pinnacle Atlantic City. That Dan Lee. The very same Dan Lee who was forced out as CEO of Pinnacle after allegedly threatening St. Louis Council member Steve Stenger and attempting to strong arm St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley after they gave permission to a competitor to build a casino near Pinnacle's Lumiere Place.
Yeah. That Dan Lee.
Strangely, as was his desire all along, Dan Lee finally has a property in Las Vegas. The Palms.
On the surface, the appointment of Dan Lee as boss of the Palms reads like a size 12E foot being crammed into a size 9B shoe. To say Dan Lee is overqualified for the job is the uber understatement of the millennium, yet par for the course in Vegas.
Without question, the neighbors should be terrified.
Gold Coast generates little-to-no excitement for the casual Vegas traveler, but is solidly attached to the Boyd Gaming's cautious and sturdy backbone of locals and Hawaiian islander marketing. With some adjustment in casino playability and renewed locals focus, Palms may be able to snare some of the locals casino play back.
Rio, a property of questionable quality that has been slowly losing its battle with father time thanks to Caesars Entertainment slow motion bankruptcy, may have Penn & Teller and access to the dregs of Total Rewards, but it lacks nearly everything else that can keep it relevant. Rumors of Rio sales are so frequent that we don't even bother reporting on them anymore, as Caesars prices in a chunk of their debt along with the nuts and bolts of the property.
Losing Pinnacle was Dan's personal MGM take over of Mirage. Like Wynn, Lee had the world in his hands and let hubris, power, greed and emotion get in his way. The Palms is his Desert Inn... he's inherited a recently renovated somewhat classic property, slightly past its prime but with branches healthy enough to support new growth. If there is one thing that history has proved it is that Dan Lee doesn't idle. He is always looking for the angle that opens the door to developing his next property. The real play here isn't about turning the Palms into a powerhouse. That goes without saying. This is about Dan Lee's third act - restoring Dan Lee as gaming industry powerhouse, but now with a property in Las Vegas.
Perhaps the terrified neighbors shouldn't include the lowly Rio or cruddy Gold Coast, but instead those who are rapidly - and for divergent reasons - approaching expiration... Gary Loveman, Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson.
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