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Howard Stutz

Rampart Casino marking 15th anniversary with emphasis on pure gambling

10 January 2014

LAS VEGAS -- In some ways, the Rampart Casino Resort at Summerlin is a throwback to old Vegas.

The 50,000-square-foot casino, which is attached to the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort at the edge of Summerlin, doesn’t have movie theaters, a bowling center or other nongaming amenities typically used to attract local customers.

The Rampart is pure gambling.

When longtime customers were questioned on what they wanted to see added at the Rampart, the answer was bingo.

“That was the No. 1 request,” Rampart General Manager Michael Gaughan Jr. said as he showed off the property’s under-construction 300-seat bingo room that is expected to open in the spring.

“Customers often stop me and show their original player’s cards, showing they have been coming here since the property opened,” Gaughan said. “We have a lot of longtime customers.”

The Rampart Casino and the 548-room hotel are celebrating their 15th anniversary this year. The casino, which draws customers from heavily populated Summerlin and western Las Vegas markets, continues to find a niche among the locals gaming behemoths operated by Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming Corp.

The Boyd Gaming-owned Suncoast is right across the street.

It’s been only in the past 24 months that the Rampart and the hotel have been able to work together under one management. Hotspur Resorts, a subsidiary of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Larco Hospitality, bought the property out of bankruptcy for $80 million in 2002. Two years ago, Hotspur decided to operate the casino and ended a management agreement with Cannery Resorts.

Gaughan, son of longtime gaming figure and South Point owner Michael Gaughan, was brought in to operate the Rampart. Affinity Gaming was hired as a consultant.

A renovation program began in 2012 and the casino was upgraded with 1,200 new slot machines, new carpeting and a reconfigured race and sports book, which is managed by the South Point. The Rampart also has 25 table games, a bar and the upscale Carmel Room restaurant associated with the casino.

The bingo room, which is being built in never-used space near the 221 bar and lounge, wouldn’t have been possible under the previous splintered management.

“Customers really didn’t know where the hotel ownership ended and the casino ownership began,” Gaughan said. “It’s much simpler now.”

Gaughan’s plans for renovating the property were extended out a few years. After the bingo room opens, Gaughan said the pathway leading to the restaurants from the casino will change from tile floors to carpet and the 24-hour coffee and buffet will be renovated.

Rooms inside the two JW Marriott hotel towers will also be remodeled over the next two summers, one tower at a time.

Two amenities, however, won’t change. Spiedini, the Italian restaurant opened by Chef Gustav Mauler and a staple of the property since the 1999 opening, won’t be touched. J.C. Wooloughan Irish Pub, also a property fixture, will be given new high-definition televisions and a new sound system for live music.

“With the World Cup (soccer tournament) coming in June, we want to make it the place to go to watch the games,” Gaughan said.

The younger Gaughan spent 15 years in positions with Coast Casinos and Boyd Gaming, including a stint as general manger of the old Barbary Coast on the Strip when his father owned it.

Having a managed a small casino that focused on gaming, he understands the mindset of the Rampart’s customer base, which is not interested in the nongaming attractions competitors offer.

Gaughan said the Rampart’s recent customer growth has come from out-of-market guests associated with the hotel. With the property privately owned, Gaughan was reluctant to provide any figures on the expansion costs or customer counts.

When he worked at the neighboring Suncoast, Gaughan he would often check out the competition from the Rampart.

“I was always impressed by what was built here,” Gaughan said.