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October 13, 2015

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Michael Gaughan — son of South Point owner, grandson of Jackie Gaughan — to take reins at Rampart Casino


Christopher DeVargas

The Rampart Casino is shown, Monday Sept. 26, 2011.

One of Nevada’s most enduring casino company families is poised to add another page to its legacy.

Michael Gaughan Jr. has been recommended by the state Gaming Control Board to take over management of the Rampart Casino next month.

Click to enlarge photo

Jackie Gaughan celebrates his 89th birthday at the El Cortez with showgirls and an Elvis Presley impersonator on Oct. 26, 2009.

Gaughan is the son and namesake of the owner of the South Point and grandson of Jackie Gaughan, patriarch of the gaming family. He is expected to become general manager of the Rampart on April 1 as part of a complex transaction in which a European foundation will take control of the property’s ownership and rely on a Nevada-based consultant to run it.

The board’s recommendation — specifically, that Gaughan be licensed as a director, officer or key employee of the casino property at the Resort at Summerlin — will be considered by the Nevada Gaming Commission on March 22.

The transaction is part of Cannery Casinos LLC’s exit as property operator after 10 years. In early 2011, Cannery and its Millennium Gaming subsidiary began formulating management transfer plans when the casino’s owner, Hotspur Resorts, of Vancouver, British Columbia, which also owns the adjacent JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa, decided to run the hotel and casino.

Gaughan was named manager of the JW Marriott property in August.

When the commission considers Gaughan’s licensing, it also will consider the transfer of the property from Hotspur to Hilfreich Stiftung, a foundation based in Liechtenstein and directed by Shirazalli Jafferali Lalji. The commission must also approve the transfer of a consulting contract with Herbst Gaming LLC, which signed a four-year deal with Hotspur in May.

Under terms of the consulting contract, Herbst would continue to counsel the new operator of the property for another three years and would be required to observe a non-compete clause on management of non-restricted casino properties within five miles of the Rampart.

The departure of Cannery management and the naming of Gaughan to run both properties is part of a major makeover planned at the resorts.

The 50,000-square-foot Rampart, which opened in 1999 and reopened after a remodeling in 2002, has 1,200 slot machines, 25 table games, a race and sports book, three restaurants, a bar and three lounges.

Gaughan told regulators he planned to upgrade the casino, restaurant menus, and entertainment and events calendar to attract more customers. The new management team plans to solicit suggestions on new slot machines through focus groups and customer emails.

While Gaughan has promised change at the properties, he also said several things would remain the same, with plans to keep the Rampart Buffet, Carmel Room and Promenade Café at the Rampart open as well as Ceres, JC Wooligans Irish Pub, Shizen and 221 at JW Marriott. Current employees at the properties will be transitioned to the new management when the shift occurs.

Customers will be able to use their Rampart Rewards Club loyalty cards at JW Marriott and won’t lose any points during the transition. Room discounts at JW Marriott also will be available to club members. The company also plans to expand its branding of the Resort at Summerlin for both properties.

Gaughan is a familiar face in the industry in Southern Nevada and has worked directly with Herbst Gaming in the past.

Prior to being named general manager of JW Marriott, he was regional manager of Herbst’s Terrible’s Casinos’ Southern Nevada region, overseeing five properties. He was president of Gaughan Gaming for four years and spent 15 years in various positions with Coast Casinos and Boyd Gaming. He was general manager of the Barbary Coast on the Strip and at South Point.

While his father is not directly involved in the management of the Rampart or JW Marriott, one of the senior Gaughan’s companies, Gaughan South, will manage the Rampart’s race and sports book operation.

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