Family ownership was a hallmark of the original casinos built in Northern Nevada following the legalization of gaming in 1931. Bill Harrah, Harold Smith, Bill Graham, Lincoln Fitzgerald and the Carano family were just a few who got their start in the casinos of the day. Most of them are long gone, and now a casino in Sparks, just down the road from Reno, has gone the same way.
John Ascuaga’s Nugget, the main employer in Sparks, was sold last month to a private investment firm, Global Gaming & Hospitality, featuring partners Carlton Geer and Michael Kim. No price was announced for the sale.
Founded by Dick Graves in 1955 as a coffee shop with slot machines, the Nugget was purchased by John Ascuaga, then the property’s general manager, in 1960. Originally a small casino, Ascuaga reinvested continually in the property. Today, it is a major property in Northern Nevada, with 1,600 hotel rooms in two towers, a 75,000-square-foot casino, 110,000 square feet of meeting space, nine restaurants and a 700-seat showroom.
Geer, a gaming real estate expert, will become the property’s CEO. He has extensive experience in the casino industry in Northern Nevada. The property will retain its name for the time being.