In the last 13 months, Boyd Gaming Corp. has added six casinos to the company’s portfolio, strengthening both its Midwest and Southern presence. Tuesday’s completion of a $1.45 billion acquisition of Peninsula Gaming gives the company two new markets — Iowa and Kansas — while adding to an already solid base in Louisiana.

“It’s an opportunity to really expand in the Midwest. That’s where business is strongest right now,” Boyd Gaming Chief Executive Officer Keith Smith said Tuesday. “This helps geographically diversify our portfolio.”

The purchase of Peninsula comes 13 months after closing a $278 million purchase of the IP Biloxi in Mississippi from the Engelstad Family Foundation.

Wynn Resorts to pay year-end dividend

Wynn Resorts Ltd. has joined a long list of companies paying special dividends before the end of the year, to help investors avoid a larger tax bill in 2013. The move comes as Congress scrambles for a solution to avoid some $500 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts in the new year.

“It’s clear that dividends are a good form of savings,” Steve Wynn, CEO and chairman of Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts told analysts and investors in an Oct. 24 conference call. “So the dividend policy of companies are very often affected by tax policies of the government.”

Wynn Resorts on Tuesday paid an $8-a-share dividend, including the regular 50-cent quarterly amount. The special dividend is expected to cost Wynn Resorts $750 million, according to the company.

Renovations, redevelopment on Downtown Grand begin

Electrician Marshal Mann stood among more than 50 construction workers Tuesday applauding the launch of redevelopment for the Downtown Grand hotel, formerly the Lady Luck. The project means 10 months to one year of steady employment for Mann, who spent the past 1½ years searching for work out of state.

“I’m excited to be at home with my wife and newborn, especially for the holidays,” he said during a ceremony on Third Street that featured the Valley High School marching band.

Fifth Street Gaming and Breslin Builders have started construction on the Downtown Grand, including renovating 650 rooms, adding a pool and spa and building 50,000 square feet of casino floor and 20,000 square feet of retail stores. Demolition work began a year ago, and the Lady Luck’s pink neon lighting has been removed.

Downtown Grand is scheduled to open in late 2013 with 600 slot machines, 35 table games and 650 employees. It’s seen as an anchor for Downtown3rd, an emerging district that includes Hogs & Heifers Saloon, Triple George restaurant and the Mob Bar.

Online poker bill faces new questions

A bill to legalize online poker that is being written in Congress and that Nevada senators are trying to pass by the end of the year could be challenged in court and found unconstitutional, according to a legal analysis by a former top government attorney.

The bill would set up a framework to license and regulate Internet poker companies, and to nourish a U.S.-based online poker industry. But former U.S. solicitor general Paul Clement said he found flaws in segments of the bill that seek to punish overseas providers that ran games in the United States and continued to take bets from U.S. players even after Congress enacted online restrictions in 2006.

The so-called “penalty box” provisions would prohibit those companies from applying for an online poker license for five years, and from selling their trademarks or software to others seeking a license.