Hard Rock Lake Tahoe Could Become Golden Nugget in September

Posted on: August 10, 2023, 01:41h. 

Last updated on: August 10, 2023, 01:57h.

On Wednesday, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) approved the previously announced sale of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe by Paragon Gaming to Tilman Fertitta’s Fertitta Entertainment Inc.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe. The NGCB approved Tilman Fertitta’s purchase of the venue. (Image: SFGate)

Clearing that regulatory hurdle paves the way for the transaction, announced in March, to potentially close before the end of this month and for a rebrand to Golden Nugget to possibly occur as soon as September. Fertitta Entertainment controls the Golden Nugget casino empire. Financial terms of the purchase weren’t disclosed.

We’ve always liked the Tahoe market and we saw this as a great opportunity,” Fertitta told NGCB members at a Wednesday meeting.

NGCB Chairman Kirk Hendricks said the application process was quick and smooth. That may have been helped by Feritta already controlling some gaming venues in Nevada and being known to regulators.

Big Changes Coming at Soon-to-Be Golden Nugget

The venue will be the third Golden Nugget in Nevada, joining one in downtown Las Vegas and another in Laughlin. Other properties bearing that name are located in Atlantic City, NJ, Lake Charles, La., and Biloxi, Miss. A recently acquired casino hotel in Cripple Creek, Colo. will likely be transitioned to Golden Nugget branding, and the operator recently broke ground on a new venue in Illinois.

Fertitta is promising big changes at his company’s first property in Northern Nevada, telling regulators that all of the venue’s guestrooms will be enhanced and that new dining options will be added. In what’s likely to be good news for the local economy, he told the NGCB staff count at the casino hotel could increase 30% to 40% in the years ahead.

“We will take this property and totally transform it, as we always do,” Fertitta told the NGCB. “If the Golden Nugget name is on it, we expect it to be one of the top properties in the market.”

Las Vegas-based Paragon Gaming rebranded the Lake Tahoe property to Hard Rock in January 2015, licensing that name from the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The venue opened in 1965 as Sahara Tahoe. The brand changed to High Sierra in 1983, and in 1990, the name was altered to Horizon Lake Tahoe.

Stateline Epicenter of Gaming Industry M&A Activity

To be precise, the soon-to-be Golden Nugget is located in Stateline, Nev. For industry and state regulatory purposes, that’s considered part of the Reno-Lake Tahoe market, and while that region pales in comparison to Las Vegas in terms of revenue and visitation, it’s been a hotbed of mergers and acquisitions activity in recent years.

As reported by Kurt Hildebrand of the Record-Courier, every major gaming venue in Stateline has experienced a change in ownership over the past three years.

Harrah’s and Harveys combined as part of the 2020 merger between Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. In relation to its acquisition of “old Caesars,” Eldorado also divested the casino resort formerly known as Mont Bleu. Bally’s bought that venue and applied its name to it in 2021.