Gaming regulators sign off on Century's purchase of the Sparks Nugget
The Nevada Gaming Commission approved Century Casino’s $195 million purchase of the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks on Thursday, giving the Colorado-based company its first location in Nevada.
Century executives said this month the transaction with Las Vegas-based Marnell Gaming is expected to close during the first week of April.
The Nugget, one of Northern Nevada’s largest casinos, will become Century’s flagship property.
The approval followed an endorsement by the Gaming Control Board on March 8.
In an abbreviated presentation from what was made at the control board meeting, Century Executive Vice President Andreas Terler delved into the history of the company. Century operates two casinos in Colorado, two casinos in Missouri and one casino in West Virginia. Century has a pending deal to acquire the operations of a casino resort in western Maryland. The company also operates casinos in Alberta, Canada and Poland.
The Nugget’s price tag includes $95 million for half of the real estate covering its site off Interstate 80 and 3 miles from Reno-Tahoe International Airport, and $100 million for the operations.
Gaming Commissioner Brian Krolicki, the only member of the five-member panel based in Northern Nevada, said the Nugget has “excellent exposure” in the Reno-Sparks area.
“When you fly in, the airplane has to steer around [the Nugget], so everyone gets a good look at [the property],” Krolicki said.
Sparks gaming revenue grew 16.7 percent in 2022 to $14.2 million compared to a year ago.
Century has a five-year option to purchase the remaining 50 percent of the Nugget site after closing on the initial 50 percent land purchase last year.
Terler told the gaming commission Century currently collects more than 70 percent of its revenue from its U.S. operations. But the figure will close in on 90 percent once the Nugget is added to the business.
Marnell Gaming acquired the Nugget Casino Resort in 2016 for an undisclosed price. It was developed by Northern Nevada gaming pioneer John Ascuaga, who died in June 2021 at age 96.
The 1,382-room hotel casino has a 75,000-square-foot gaming floor, 110,000 square feet of meeting space, nine restaurants, a 700-seat showroom and other amenities.
Terler said the casino’s slot machines' average age is 15 and the company’s immediate move will be to purchase new games for roughly 12 percent of the casino floor.
“We plan to build new casino space of about 17,000 square feet in the south area that is currently unused space,” Terler said. “The new casino floor will feature a very cool signature bar.”
Century is led by co-CEOs Erwin Haitzmann and Peter Hoetzinger.
“We are finalizing our plans for initial investments and upgrades, and I'm more excited than ever about the potential for improvements,” Hoetzinger said about the Nugget during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call on March 10.
Longtime Nevada gaming executive Mark Sterbens, who has been general manager of the Nugget under Marnell Gaming since 2016, will stay on under Century in his same role.
Terler said the company plans to retain the Nugget’s executives and staff, and he plans to spend a large amount of time in Northern Nevada.