Paragon Gaming recommended to acquire Hard Rock Hotel at Lake Tahoe

The Las Vegas company that manages the casino at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort has received preliminary approval to acquire a majority interest of the Hard Rock Hotel at Lake Tahoe.

The state Gaming Control Board on Wednesday unanimously recommended approval of a series of management and ownership licenses for Paragon Gaming for the 539-room Hard Rock in Stateline.

Final approval of the licenses is expected by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Nov. 17.

Licensing is part of a multiphase effort by Paragon, headed by co-founders Diana Bennett, chairman of the company, and CEO Scott Menke, to acquire the property from Neva One, a company held by the cattle-ranching Park family in Douglas County.

Bennett, daughter of the late Las Vegas gaming pioneer William Bennett, said the company would take its management expertise to the property and work to create new Lake Tahoe vacation packages with prospective partners.

If the Gaming Commission approves the deal as expected, Paragon will have a majority stake in the property. The Control Board allowed the company to convert a loan into a controlling equity interest.

The conversions from loans to equity of two lenders who invested along with Paragon are expected to occur over the next 12 months, following approvals by both the Control Board and the Commission.

Board members praised Bennett and Menke for moving quickly to resolve disputes with contractors that had placed liens on the property for nonpayment for work performed in earlier renovation efforts.

“You did the right thing for the company and the property and protected a lot of jobs,” said board member Shawn Reid. “We know the magic you can do; we’ve seen it before.”

Reid was referencing Paragon’s management of the Riviera in its final days of operation and the transition of that property to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for demolition and turning the site into the location of an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

As the company exited its management of the Riviera, it took on the Westgate management and successfully directed Riviera guests to the nearby property.

Paragon also recently took over management of the Hooters hotel-casino on Tropicana Avenue and has an ownership and management role for the Edgewater Casino in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The company also is overseeing construction of the Parq Vancouver, due to open in fall 2017. The Parq, a $600 million entertainment resort with two Marriott-branded hotels, will be attached to the BC Place Stadium, a 54,500-seat domed stadium that will be home to the BC Lions Canadian Football League team and the Vancouver Whitecaps, a Major League Soccer franchise.

Menke said the company may explore collaborations with Vail Resorts Management Co., which operates Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly ski resort near the Hard Rock and in August acquired the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort north of Vancouver.

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

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