Paragon Gaming approved to take over Westgate Las Vegas operations

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday approved casino management company Paragon Gaming to take over operations of Westgate Las Vegas.

The takeover will become effective early Monday morning.

Las Vegas-based Paragon is headed by Dianna Bennett, the daughter of the late Las Vegas gaming pioneer William Bennett.

The company managed the Riviera for almost two years before it was acquired by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in February and closed on May 4.

In a similar presentation that was made earlier this month to the Gaming Control Board, Paragon President Scott Menke said Thursday the off-Strip resort is already benefiting from the planned association.

More than 140,000 room nights 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.

He added that Paragon hoped to add more former employees from the Riviera to the 3,000-room Westgate, which was formerly known as the LVH and previously the Las Vegas Hilton.

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, including the restaurants, entertainment attractions and the convention space.

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

Menke said the Westgate’s employees, except those who work in the timeshare business, will be under control of Paragon.

Gaming attorney Jeff Silver told the Gaming Commission that Westgate Resorts founder and CEO David Siegel “hasn’t expressed any interest” in getting a Nevada gaming license. Silver said Siegel’s goal was to turn the Westgate over to a management company.

“When the Riviera closed, he asked me about Paragon,” Silver said.

The 60-year-old Riviera will be demolished to make way for an expanded convention and meeting facility as part of the Global Business District.

Menke told the Gaming Control Board earlier this month the LVCVA’s plans will allow the Westgate “to 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 achieve similar success at the Westgate.

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 — to SBE Entertainment and Stockbridge Real Estate in 2006. Bennett’s father owned Circus Circus in the 1970s and into the 1990s and developed the predecessor company that eventually became Mandalay Resort Group.

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.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Find @howardstutz on Twitter.

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