This story originally appeared in the NNBW on May 16, 2016.
The new owner of the Nugget Casino Resort hit the ground running after the sale closed May 6, announcing the new manager of the Sparks property and assuring residents that popular events will continue.
Mark Sterbens Jr. is taking over as senior vice president & general manager of the Sparks property and announced Anthony Marnell III, chairman and chief executive officer of Marnell Gaming, LLC, on May 9.
Sterbens previously held the position of vice president and assistant general manager of Marnell Gaming’s two Southern Nevada properties, the Colorado Belle and Edgewater. He joined Marnell Gaming in January 2009 as vice president of marketing for those properties. In August, 2013, he was promoted to vice president and assistant general manager responsible for marketing, casino operations and food & beverage operations. During his tenure with the company in southern Nevada, Sterbens was instrumental in the development and operation of the two successful new entertainment venues in Laughlin — Marnell Gaming’s 2,500 seat indoor Edgewater E Center and its outdoor, multi-purpose 10,000 seat Laughlin Event Center.
The company says it has big plans for the Nugget and special events and attractions will be included.
“We intend to continue great events like Star Spangled Sparks, Hot August Nights and the Rib Cook-Off,” Marnell said in a press release. “We want to keep and hopefully enhance all the events that bring people back each year.”
Two enhancements for Star Spangled Sparks this year will be a laser light show on the north face of the Nugget and a family bike parade during the day.
Marnell emphasized company values as they relate to events.
“We’re a family oriented organization and greatly value community relationships,” said Marnell. “We recognize that Nugget-hosted special events are an important part of how we interact with our neighbors and guests.”
Marnell Gaming has a track record in participating in special events at its two properties in Laughlin. The Colorado Belle and Edgewater casino resorts take part in community-wide events including the annual Laughlin River Run motorcycle event in April and the River Regatta each August.
The company owns and operates the 10,000-seat Laughlin Events Center, which hosts major city-sponsored concerts featuring current superstars including Miranda Lambert and Kid Rock and legends Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.
Other managers in Marnell Gaming were also promoted in response to Sterbens’ move to the Nugget.
Ryan Walker is the new senior vice president and general manager of both the Colorado Belle and the Edgewater. Walker began working at the Edgewater in 1997 as a dealer. Previous to this promotion he was served as vice president of operations of the southern Nevada properties.
Jeff Pfeiffer is now the chief operating officer of Marnell Gaming. Pfeiffer has served as senior vice president and general manager of the southern Nevada resorts since 2007. He also serves as president of The Laughlin Tourism Commission.
Marnell Gaming, LLC is a privately-held limited liability company that develops, expands and acquires gaming-related properties. It is focused on providing a unique portfolio of gaming offerings to its guests.
The company had previously announced plans to renovate and improve the Nugget over the next 18-24 months, including the hotel rooms, and convention center.
“It’s an iconic place in a great location in Sparks,” Marnell said in a phone interview before the sale closed. “To me, there’s a lot of room for improvement. It’s an asset we can fix up in time and bring it back to what it used to be.”
The Nugget as a resort got its start in 1960 when John Ascuaga purchases what was then a coffee shop with a handful of slot machines. In the ensuing years he developed it into a major casino-resort known as John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
The Ascuaga family sold the property to Global Gaming in 2013. Marnell Gaming made an unsolicited offer to purchase the Nugget from Global earlier this year.