Golden Nugget to Buy Hard Rock Lake Tahoe Casino, Deal to Close This Year

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The iconic Hard Rock Lake Tahoe (pictured) is a Nevada landmark that has, under various names, greeted visitors from California driving along Highway 50 since the 1960s. Now it looks set to be sold to billionaire Tilman Fertitta and his Golden Nugget casino chain.

Despite the name, Hard Rock Lake Tahoe is operated by Paragon Gaming, and not Hard Rock International. It licensed the name from Hard Rock owners the Seminole Tribe of Florida when it acquired a majority stake in 2015.  

The current 539-room Hard Rock property, which has been through several owners since its inception 60 years ago, is set to don a new identity as the Golden Nugget Lake Tahoe.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board made a swift decision on the purchase on Wednesday, taking just ten minutes to recommended approval of the deal.

“The Golden Nugget brand will be a welcome addition to the Lake Tahoe business community,” said Gaming Control Board Chairman Kirk Hendrick.

As well as the Golden Nugget casino chain, Fertitta, under Fertitta Entertainment, also owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets. He is the cousin of fellow billionaires Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who own casino operator Red Rock Resorts.   

Top Properties

The all-cash transaction, which was initially announced in March, is anticipated to close by August 25. No exact figure on the purchase has been provided.

Regardless, Fertitta seemed happy with the price and his investment.

“We saw this as a great opportunity,” he said, discussing the transaction with the Control Board via video link from Houston, as reported by The Nevada Independent.

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

The Hard Rock Lake Tahoe, previously known as the Sahara Tahoe, High Sierra Resort, and Lake Tahoe Horizon, spans 24 acres.

Its picturesque location adjacent to the pristine Lake Tahoe and near the nearly-finished Tahoe Blue Event Center, as well as traffic from Highway 50, clearly made it an enticing prospect for Fertitta.

A Vision for Expansion and Excellence

The billionaire’s plans for the property are ambitious. He aims to revamp every nook and cranny of the casino within the next two years.  

“When we go in, we basically touch every square foot of the casino and all that will happen over the next 24 months,” Fertitta said.

The property is expected to retain its current workforce, and even expand it by 30% to 40%.

The transition of Hard Rock Lake Tahoe to the Golden Nugget is part of a wider effort to revitalize casinos in the Lake Tahoe area. Although Nevada, and particularly Las Vegas, saw booming revenues in 2022 and continuing strong numbers in 2023, the Lake Tahoe area’s casinos have been a little left behind.

The region also saw huge snowstorms earlier in the year, followed last month by excessive heat, which has discouraged Nevada tourists from straying outside of Las Vegas.

This development is just one of the many ventures Fertitta Entertainment is embarking on. They have also set their sights on the Las Vegas Strip, with plans to construct a 2,420-room hotel-casino, further solidifying their presence in the gaming business.

The Golden Nugget operates venues in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and in several other U.S states.  

This week it opened a brand new casino in Danville, Illinois, after initial discussions on the development started in 2019. Local corporation Danville Development partnered with The Golden Nugget to operate the casino.

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