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The Nevada Independent

Fertitta: Golden Nugget Lake Tahoe will rise from rebranded Hard Rock in 30 days

The resort, which opened in the 1960s, will receive its fifth name once a renovation is completed.
Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz

The Lake Tahoe resort that has operated under four names since it was built in the 1960s will yet again undergo a name change following Thursday’s unanimous ruling by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Regulators approved Houston-based Fertitta Entertainment as the new owner and operator of the Hard Rock Lake Tahoe, which will be rebranded into the Golden Nugget Lake Tahoe in 30 days.

The privately held company is controlled by billionaire Tilman Fertitta. The 539-room hotel-casino in Stateline will join six other Golden Nugget casinos in downtown Las Vegas, Laughlin, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi and Atlantic City as part of Fertitta’s gaming empire.

The name Hard Rock will be headed to the property’s history books along with past monikers Sahara Tahoe, High Sierra Resort and Lake Tahoe Horizon. 

Fertitta Entertainment is acquiring the resort’s operations from Las Vegas-based Paragon Gaming, which has operated the property since 2015. A sales price was not disclosed and the transaction will close Friday, an attorney for the company told the gaming commission.

Fertitta, who attended a hearing remotely from his Houston office Aug. 9 with the Gaming Control Board, did not participate in the commission hearing, which lasted less than eight minutes.

Gaming Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Togliatti said Thursday the appearances of Fertitta and other company executives were waived because they had received approvals from state gaming regulators on another matter in March.

The resort sits on 24 acres adjacent to picturesque Lake Tahoe and across from Bally’s Lake Tahoe. It is one of four hotel casinos in the South Lake Tahoe market.

Commission member Brian Krolicki, who lives in Lake Tahoe, said the company’s plan to spend $227 million renovating the resort “is a big deal for our little Stateline community.”

Krolicki added that “I've been to every rendition of this property for the last 35 years. It's always been a bit tired and needed a little help.”

Fertitta is a cousin of Red Rock Resorts CEO Frank Fertitta III and Vice Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta.

Gaming regulators did not inquire about Fertitta Entertainment’s plans to build a 2,420-room hotel-casino on 6 acres at Harmon Avenue and the Strip that it acquired last year for $270 million.

In March, Fertitta Entertainment Vice President Steven Scheinthal told The Nevada Independent that the “inflationary environment” increased costs to build and the company was “going through with our options and trying to understand what the development process would entail.”

Paragon Gaming is controlled by Diana Bennett, the daughter of the late casino industry pioneer William Bennett, who developed the Circus Circus Casino brand. They are the only father-daughter duo who are members of the Gaming Hall of Fame.

Paragon licensed the Hard Rock name from Hard Rock International’s owner, the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida. The property has hundreds of music memorabilia items that will be returned to Hard Rock.

With the sale, Paragon now operates just one casino in Nevada, the Oyo Hotel and Casino on Tropicana Avenue across from the MGM Grand Las Vegas and behind the Tropicana Hotel and Casino.

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