Golden Nugget: New Owner and New Philosophy - 8 News NOW

Edward Lawrence, Reporter

Golden Nugget: New Owner and New Philosophy

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The Golden Nugget has a new owner and a new philosophy. Landry's restaurants spent $295 million to buy the Golden Nugget downtown -- and the one in Laughlin. The company will abandon its efforts to attract high-end gamblers and will cater to the masses.

Eyewitness News 8 went to the Nevada Gaming Commission meeting Tuesday and has the exclusive television interview with the Nugget's new owner.

It did not take long for Nevada Gaming Commissioners to approve the sale of the Golden Nugget. Following the meeting, Tilman Fertitta transferred the money and walked into his new purchase for the first time.

Tilman Fertitta, Landry's chairman, CEP and president, said, "We felt like it was the best brand out there to roll out throughout the country. We hope to have Golden Nuggets throughout the country."

Fertitta took Landry's public in 1993. He seems to be a man of action. Fertitta outlined plans and a timetable for major Golden Nugget improvements. The renovations start in two weeks. There will be 25-percent more slot machines and 25-percent more table games. In the end, the Golden Nugget will look significantly different.

Tilman Fertitta said, "I think you will see a little bit of all of it. We are going to improve every area that you can improve -- from the pool area, to the slot area, to a new sportsbook, to new restaurants."

A two-story nightclub with a balcony overlooking Fremont Street will be among the noticeable differences.

By the end of 2006, the improvements will be finished, including two new Landry's signature restaurants. Fertitta said, "I think by the end of the year people will be surprised by the changes that have already happened." By mid 2007, a new 400-room tower and showroom will open.

Fertitta's name may sound familiar, his second cousins Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta own Station Casinos. He said, "Everything I have ever asked them, or insight, they have always been there. These are two totally separate companies. I hope I am just 20-percent as good as they are."

Gaming commissioners and the Las Vegas mayor hopes so too.

Landry's wants to buy other casino properties on Fremont Street. It has experience with projects of that size. The company has been credited with helping revitalize downtown Houston.

Fertitta's company also owns the mega San Luis Resort on Galveston Island, which became a FEMA and government center during Hurricane Rita.

Contact Reporter Edward Lawrence

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