Las Vegas’ Michael Gaughan Buys Two Colorado Casinos in Cripple Creek

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Michael Gaughan, the owner of South Point Las Vegas, along with business partners David Ross and Joseph Canfora, has added two new Colorado casinos to his gambling empire.

Their company, Rocky Mountain Gaming, recently entered into agreements to acquire the operating assets of Johnny Nolon’s Casino and the Colorado Grande Casino in Cripple Creek.

This acquisition is pending approval and licensing from the Colorado Division of Gaming. Cripple Creek is one of three small mountain towns in the Centennial State with legal casino resorts, the others being Black Hawk and Central City.

Cripple Creek has been a mining town since the 1890s, when it was one of the last areas to see a Gold Rush in Colorado. However, by the 1970s, the town was in heavy decline. The emergence of casino gambling in the 1990s has revitalized the area, with some casinos even taking over historic Old West buildings for their operations.

“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 David Ross in a press release.

“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.”

Background of the Business Partners

Rocky Mountain Gaming is a collaboration between seasoned gaming professionals.

Ross and Gaughan have approximately 30 years of experience working together in senior management for Coast Casinos, Affinity Gaming, and the JW Marriott & Rampart Casino.

Canfora, who sold the operating assets of Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek to Golden Nugget in 2022, brings more than 40 years of experience in gaming and hospitality.

Gaughan has the richest legacy in the casino business out of the three. The son of Las Vegas casino pioneer Jackie Gaughan, Michael has been a significant figure in the history of Nevada casinos, having built the Barbary Coast on the Las Vegas Strip and formed Coast Casinos.

He sold Coast Casinos to Boyd Gaming in 2004 and later rebranded South Coast to South Point. Gaughan also holds exclusive operating rights to more than 1,400 slot machines at Harry Reid International Airport, which has seen record visitor numbers during the past year.

The Significance of the Acquisition

The two casinos Rocky Mountain Gaming has purchased were previously operated by Minter Holding LLC, owned by local entrepreneur David J. Minter.

“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished at these two casinos over the years,” Minter said in Rocky Mountain Gaming’s press release.

“While other casinos were coming and going and changing owners, we were a constant in this town. I look forward to seeing what Rocky Mountain Gaming CC brings to these casinos I love so much.”

The two properties collectively house approximately 400 slot machines, seven hotel rooms, and two restaurants.

Cripple Creek is experiencing significant growth in its gaming industry, with major operators like Golden Nugget and Full House Resorts’ Chamonix entering the market. The historic town is now home to 10 casinos and several Colorado retail sportsbooks, including Century Casinos’ partnership with Nevada sports betting operator Circa Sports.

While a Colorado mountain town certainly make a scenic location for a casino, none of them can claim to be as legendary as the spot claimed by one of the casinos in South Dakota.

The famous gold rush town of Deadwood was home to and visited by many iconic figures of the Old West during the late 19th century. It is now a popular tourist spot, and the location of a boutique Hard Rock Hotel and Casino known as “The Rocksino”.

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