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Century Casinos To Acquire Nugget Casino Resort In Northern Nevada

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • Century Casinos is acquiring the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada for $195 million USD.
  • Century Casinos is based in Colorado and best known for their eponymously named gaming properties in Central City and Cripple Creek.
  • The sale comes less than a year from the death of the property’s longtime namesake, John Ascuaga.

Colorado Springs, Colorado based gaming company Century Casinos will soon have a presence in the Silver State. They’ve announced that they’re buying the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada for $195 million USD. With the purchase of the Nugget, Century Casinos will own 10 casinos including 6,700 game machines and 140 table games in North America. Currently, Century Casinos is best known for the self branded casinos in Cripple Creek and Central City, Colorado.

The Nugget Casino Resort dates back to 1955 and has long been a favorite of Northern Nevada ‘locals’ as well as serious gambling enthusiasts. The property was originally known as ‘Dick Graves’ Nugget’ from 1955-1960, named for co-founder Dick Graves. In 1960, the property’s then-general manager John Ascuaga purchased the Nugget and his name went up on the marquee. It would enjoy its greatest success as John Ascuaga’s Nugget and would carry this brand until it was sold to Las Vegas based Global Gaming And Hospitality in 2013. It would henceforth be known as simply the ‘Nugget Casino Resort’. It was sold to Marnell Gaming in 2016 and they’ve owned it ever since. Ascuaga died in June 28, 2021 at the age of 96 and the sale comes less than a year later.

The current incarnation of the Nugget Casino Resort has 50,200 square feet of gaming space, two hotel towers, 110,000 square feet of convention space, an 8,555 seat outdoor amphitheater and a wide variety of dining options. Here’s some background of the property and the Reno-Sparks area from the press release announcing the deal:

Nugget Casino Resort is located in Sparks, Nevada, conveniently located on Interstate 80 with easy access from Reno-Tahoe International Airport (approximately three miles). The full-service resort includes a large gaming floor, two hotel towers, 110,000 square feet of convention space, a 8,555 seat outdoor amphitheater, a wide variety of casual and fine dining options in addition to several on-site bars and lounges, and a 5-story 1,200 space parking garage and additional 1,272 parking spaces. The property consists of 50,200 square feet of casino space, 859 slot machines, 29 table games, 1,382 hotel rooms and seven dining venues. The Nugget Casino Resort had net operating revenue of $100.4 million and Adjusted EBITDA* of $32.8 million based on preliminary results for the year ended December 31, 2021.

The Reno-Sparks area is famous for its casinos but is also known as a destination for outdoor recreation with proximity to Lake Tahoe and several ski resorts. It has attracted leading technology and manufacturing companies including Google, Tesla, Switch, Amazon and Apple. The economy is diversifying into a broader base that spans healthcare, entrepreneurial startups and technology-based industries, and the area currently has an unemployment rate below 3%.

Erwin Haitzmann and Peter Hoetzinger, Co-Chief Executive Officers of Century Casinos, have had their eye on the Reno market for awhile now and think the property has a bright future:

“We have been looking at entering the Reno market for a long time, and we believe the Nugget is a perfect fit for our portfolio. We look forward to welcoming the great team at the Nugget to Century Casinos. We believe there is a lot of upside to this transaction and that we identified some areas of improvement to continue the Nugget’s growth. We expect the Nugget to seamlessly integrate and provide added synergies for Century Casinos’ US portfolio.”

Good move by Century Casinos–the Reno/Tahoe area has amazing potential but the gaming infrastructure needs some ‘TLC’. Don’t be surprised if Century Casinos picks up a couple more Northern Nevada gaming properties in the next couple of years. The Nugget purchase is expected to close early in the second quarter of 2022.

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