Hotel-casinos look to diversify to attract customers

With the market for hotel casinos ever-changing, many properties in northern Nevada are looking for ways to keep customers streaming through the doors.

With the advent of online gaming and Indian casinos in California, local hotel-casinos have done various things to spruce up their properties. That means introducing renovated properties, updating dining and entertainment options, to tapping into the social gaming market themselves.

While executives admit the market is changing, they are poised to attract new business from the influx of companies such as Tesla coming to northern Nevada.

As for the properties themselves, several have undertaken remodeling projects both big and small.

The Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks started a multi-million dollar renovation plan in 2014 after its change of ownership. The latest remodel is its Noodle Hut Restaurant and VIP Lounge. The Noodle will have an expanded menu that includes sushi, while the dining area will be expanded, designed to meet the demands of the restaurant’s popularity.

The Nugget is also in the process of introducing a large-limit slot and VIP Lounge on the casino floor.

“The Nugget has lagged the market in providing a quiet lounge environment for casino players to relax, chat with friends and generally decompress,” said the Nugget’s president and CEO Carlton Geer in a release. “This new lounge will allow us to serve our casino guests in the manner they deserve.”

Other renovations have included moving the sportsbook area from the property’s basement to the casino floor.

Other resort properties have undertaken similar renovations.

The Carson Nugget overhauled its dining options and renovated 58,000 square feet of its casino interior. For Dean DiLullo, the property’s chief executive officer who moved to the Carson Nugget after some time at Boomtown Reno, it was imperative that it revamp the dining menu.

“The property needed to take the culinary department to the next level,” DiLullo said. Among those changes were introducing Italian cuisine and an assortment of wines and coffee options.

In addition to its new culinary menu, The Carson Nugget remodeled virtually its entire casino and dining areas.

For instance, it repositioned its William Hill Sportsbook into one corner of the casino area and introduced new furniture such as lounge chairs in front of wide screen TVs. The Carson Nugget even changed the ambiance of the property’s decor bringing in paintings from local artist Erik Burke, which adorn the walls of Alatte, the Nugget’s bar and coffee shop. The Peppermill has done some minor changes to its property recently after a major remodel several years ago. It has brought a new lighting system that is designed to be more pleasing to guests.

Other properties are looking at other avenues to promote and attract patrons. Whitney Peak Hotel, for example, has partnered with the local Public Broadcasting Station affiliate KNPB to promote its Cargo concert hall. KNPB began airing the series “Cargo Live at Whitney Peak Hotel” on Saturday, April 4. Each 30-minute episode features a live performance from one of 13 local bands or artists.

Some of the local artists featured are Misterwives, Crash Kings, The Wood Brothers and Kitten. Whitney Peak and KNPB management feel the series could be a boon to the hotel and its concert hall, which has hosted 75 concerts since opening last spring.

“Cargo is one of the finest venues on the tour circuit right now according to the artists,” Kurt Mische, president and CEO of KNPB Public Broadcasting said in a release, who added that the show should provide a great amount of exposure to the venue.

With the advent of social gaming, some properties such as the Atlantis Resort Casino Spa offer online gaming options on mobile devices. “Here at the Atlantis we offer the Atlantis Reels contest mobile app which is totally free to play and can be downloaded on your personal devices. Contest winners receive great prizes such as Atlantis Stay Packages,” said David Farahi, chief operating officer of Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc., the parrent company of the Atlantis.

The Atlantis also introduced its “Pick Your Win” device designed to give players the choice of which type of slot machine they would like to play. The resort has a sign near its Manhattan Deli showing players where to find the slots they’d like to play.

“Pick Your Win is a slot categorization where players know what kind of game-play experience to expect before they play. The player can have a lot of little hits on the machine, enjoying more time on the device, or can have the rush of the big hit on the machine,” Farahi said.

Even with all changes, execs see a booming market with new businesses like Tesla coming in with employees with disposable incomes.

“Our market has gone from a growth market to a mature market. This Renossaince is diversifying our economy. Tesla has put a spotlight on our market and we are seeing a resurgence with new industries. It is a rising tide that will lift all ships,” Farahi said.


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