Nevada’s Eldorado Resorts becoming a force in regional gaming

High atop the list of gaming companies to keep an eye on is Eldorado Resorts, a Reno company that has become a force in the regional casino industry.

Eldorado Resorts made a splash last month by announcing the acquisition of Tropicana Entertainment from Icahn Enterprises for $1.85 billion. The deal, expected to close by the end of the year, would give Eldorado 27 properties in 12 states.

One of the new properties being acquired is the Tropicana Laughlin, Eldorado’s first in Southern Nevada.

Eldorado is well positioned to take advantage of the prospect of nationwide sports wagering by virtue of owning several casinos in multiple states.

The company is run by the Carano family, a name many Nevadans may be familiar with for various reasons.

I first learned of the Carano name when I was a reporter for my college newspaper at Northern Arizona University, which played UNLV at what is now Sam Boyd Stadium.

The starting quarterback for UNLV was Glenn Carano, who shredded the Lumberjack secondary in a 34-21 win.

Carano would take the fourth position in nearly every career quarterback category for UNLV.

He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and had a seven-year career as the backup to Roger Staubach and Danny White.

Carano passed down those athletic genes. Mixed martial arts fans know of Glenn’s daughter, retired MMA fighter and television personality Gina Carano.

Glenn’s father, Don Carano, who passed away last fall, was a legendary gaming executive. Don Carano formed one of Nevada’s most prominent gaming law firms, McDonald Carano, and founded Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery.

He started the casino company by taking a chance with Eldorado Resort Casino. It was the first casino property north of the railroad tracks on Virginia Street in downtown Reno.

Eldorado Resorts partnered with what is now MGM Resorts International to build the Silver Legacy, Reno’s first megaresort. It’s a property that stands out in the downtown Reno skyline with a sphere containing an animated tribute to Northern Nevada’s mining industry.

MGM continues to own Circus Circus in Las Vegas, but it sold the Reno version to Eldorado.

Glenn Carano eventually became the general manager of the Silver Legacy Resort Casino, Eldorado Resort Casino and Circus Circus Hotel Casino in Reno.

He was named to the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame and served on the Nevada Athletic Commission, the Reno-Sparks Convention &Visitors Authority marketing committee and the board of directors for the airport authority supporting Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Today, Eldorado Resorts is embarking on a plan to market the Eldorado, Circus Circus and Silver Legacy casinos as “The Row,” a group of properties connected with climate-controlled bridges and passages, a strategy that has been successfully used by a number of casino companies.

One of Glenn Carano’s nephews, Anthony Carano, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the downtown Reno properties, was licensed by the Nevada Gaming Commission last week as a key employee for the company.

In an interview, Anthony Carano said Eldorado is anxious to provide legal sports wagering in some of the company’s regional operations. If the right deal were to come along, he said, Las Vegas would also be a place to be.

“When we’ve looked at acquisitions, we really don’t look at a map,” he said. “We just look at the operations of a company and whether we can provide a great return to our shareholders, and it kind of falls where it may on a map. Las Vegas is a great market, and maybe someday we’ll have the opportunity to have a casino here, but nothing’s eminent.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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