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Howard Stutz

Paragon Gaming gets tentative nod to take over Westgate Las Vegas operations

14 May 2015

Casino management company Paragon Gaming hopes to take over operations of Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on June 1, but the off-Strip resort is already benefiting from the planned association.

Paragon President Scott Menke told the Gaming Control Board on Wednesday that 150,000 room nights for this year that had been booked at the now-closed Riviera were transferred to the Westgate. Also, several large conventions and meetings planned for the Riviera will move to the Westgate’s 225,000 square-foot convention center.

“This is business that is remaining in the market,” Menke said.

The Control Board took little time recommending that Paragon, which is headed by Dianna Bennett — daughter of the late Las Vegas gaming pioneer William Bennett — be approved to run the 3,000-room Westgate, which was formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton.

The Nevada Gaming Commission will make a final ruling on May 28.

Las Vegas-based Paragon managed the Riviera Hotel and Casino for almost two years before it was acquired by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in February. The 60-year-old hotel-casino closed on May 4 and will be demolished to make way for an expanded convention and meeting facility as part of the Global Business District.

Menke told the Control Board the LVCVA’s plans will allow the Westgate “the shine again.”

Paragon plans to lease the property from Westgate and acquire all the resort’s gaming equipment.

Menke said Paragon grew occupancy at the Riviera from the 50 percent range to upward of 80 percent. He expects to have similar success at the Westgate.

“We have no reason to believe you won’t be successful,” Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett told Menke.

Paragon will replace the Navegante Group as managers of the Westgate’s 95,000 square-foot casino. However, Paragon will also have control of the hotel and nongaming aspects of the property.

Westgate Resorts, which bought the hotel-casino last year for an undisclosed price, will continue to manage the property’s 100 timeshare units.

“You’re handicapped if you only operate the casino,” Bennett told the Control Board. “It’s a great, iconic property with a great staff. We have a lot to work with.”

Following the Riviera, the Westgate marks Paragon’s third property it will have managed in the area of the north Strip. Bennett’s family owned the Sahara before selling the casino — now known as the SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino — to SBE Entertainment and Stockbridge Real Estate in 2006.

Westgate Resorts is spending more than $100 million to remodel the hotel-casino, which was originally opened as the International by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian in 1969.

Menke said 1,000 guest rooms had been remodeled and upgrades were being planned for the remaining rooms. The casino and race and sports book are also getting upgrades.

He said several new restaurants will be added, the pool deck was been upgraded and a deal with the Graceland Museum will create the largest display of Elvis Presley memorabilia outside of Memphis, Tenn.

Renovations to the convention space are expected to be completed by summer.

Menke said for sales staff from the Riviera had already transferred to Westgate. He was hopeful the remodeled casino would be able to add employees.

An attorney for Westgate Resorts founder and CEO David Siegel told the Control Board the agreement with Paragon would preclude the “king of time share developers” from seeking a gaming license.
Paragon Gaming gets tentative nod to take over Westgate Las Vegas operations is republished from