South Point Owner Michael Gaughan Expanding Into Colorado With Two Casinos

Posted on: December 14, 2023, 01:35h. 

Last updated on: December 15, 2023, 09:30h.

South Point Las Vegas owner Michael Gaughan is expanding his casino empire into Colorado with the operational acquisitions of two gaming properties in Cripple Creek.

Michael Gaughan Colorado Cripple Creek casinos
South Point Casino owner Michael Gaughan and two business partners have acquired the operating rights to two casinos in Colorado. The Cripple Creek casinos are Johnny Nolon’s and the Colorado Grande. (Image: Getty)

Gaughan formed Rocky Mountain Gaming in conjunction with gaming industry veterans David Ross and Joseph Canfora to explore opportunities throughout the US. The trio found what they believe are ideal opportunities with Johnny Nolon’s Casino and the Colorado Grande Casino.

Rocky Mountain Gaming is acquiring the operating rights to the casinos from G Investments, LLC (Johnny Nolon’s), and Minter Holdings, LLC (Colorado Grande). Both are located in Cripple Creek, a former gold mining camp in the central part of the state near Colorado Springs.

David Minter of Minter Holdings will remain the landlord of Johnny Nolon’s and is the majority owner of the Colorado Grande’s physical assets.

The Cripple Creek market is growing rapidly with Golden Nugget bringing in an anchor restaurant like Salt Grass, and the opening of Chamonix this month,” said Ross. “Those two operators, at either end of the town, will help attract new visitors to Cripple Creek, and we think there’s an opportunity for our properties to offer a true locals experience that caters to individuals looking for loose slots and personal service.”

Johnny Nolon’s is one of Cripple Creek’s original casinos. Johnny Nolon’s and the Colorado Grande are both in the heart of the town’s gaming district, which dates back to the early 1990s. The casinos have a combined 400 slot machines.

Cripple Creek Casinos

Commercial casinos are allowed in three of Colorado’s mountain towns, including Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, and Central City. Cripple Creek is home to 10 casinos, with two recently undergoing redevelopments and rebranding.

The former Wildwood reopened as Golden Nugget this past summer after billionaire Tilman Fertitta bought the resort for $43 million. Full House Resorts is expanding Bronco Billy’s with a separate boutique resort called the Chamonix Casino Hotel, which is set to open on December 26.

Gross gaming revenue in Cripple Creek from July 2022 through June 2023 totaled $166.2 million.

Gaughan Seeks Gold Outside Silver State

Gaughan, 80, is the son of Las Vegas casino pioneer Jackie Gaughan. He held ownership positions in numerous casinos during his career but was best known for running the El Cortez in downtown Las Vegas. The younger Gaughan built the Barbary Coast on the Las Vegas Strip, today The Cromwell, and formed Coast Casinos as its parent company in 1979.

Gaughan and Ross became friends while working together at Coast Casinos. Ross served as chief operating officer. Coast Casinos also owned the Gold Coast, The Orleans, Suncoast, and South Coast casinos.

Gaughan sold Coast Casinos to Boyd Gaming in 2004 for $1.2 billion. Gaughan bought back the South Coast two years later, which Boyd said was underperforming, and rebranded the resort to South Point. The casino, located about five miles south of the Strip on S. Las Vegas Blvd., has since prospered.

Gaughan has also held the exclusive operating rights to the more than 1,400 slot machines inside Harry Reid International Airport for nearly four decades.