ELKO — The Red Garter Hotel and Casino in West Wendover has been rescued.
Owners of the Wendover Nugget Hotel and Casino acquired the Red Garter in a deal that closed Tuesday afternoon.
“Once we heard that the previous owners were going to shut the Red Garter down, we have been working nonstop to make sure that the Red Garter would remain open and the people of Wendover could rely on it as a viable source of employment,” said Jacob Hafter, attorney for the new owners.
Marcy Simon of Full House Inc. said Full House sold its interest in the Red Garter under the deed of trust to Generation 2010 LLC at 2:28 p.m. Tuesday, and she said all the parties worked to make the deal a reality.
“The Red Garter is staying open. I’m so happy for all the people who work there. I’m just so relieved,” she said from Las Vegas.
Full House sold the Red Garter to Holder Hospitality Group in 2005 but still held a note Holder couldn’t pay. Full House filed for foreclosure for the remaining $5.2 million owed.
Simon wasn’t sure what Generation 2010 ended up paying for the Red Garter, but she said she and her husband Jack no longer have any financial ties to the casino.
“It’s all being split up a bunch of ways. All the parties worked hard to make the deal go through,” she said.
David Ensign was getting a loan for an undisclosed amount from his father Michael Ensign for the Red Garter deal, according to a Las Vegas Sun report on the Nevada Gaming Commission meeting last week. The Nugget announcement Tuesday didn’t give any figures.
The Nugget owners said Holder filed for bankruptcy protection for the Red Garter last Friday.
Holder had filed for bankruptcy protection last year for Stockmen’s Hotel & Casino and Commercial Casino in Elko and Scoreboard in Spring Creek, as well as for additional casinos in Nevada.
Majority owner David Ensign promised the Nevada Gaming Control Board last week that keeping the Red Garter in operation would be a central concern, according to the Nugget announcement Tuesday.
According to information from the Nevada Gaming Commission, David Ensign would own 72.5 percent of the Red Garter, Generation 2000 Trust, 20.62 percent, Jason Ensign, 3.4 percent, and Brett Ensign Gaming 2000 Trust, 3.4 percent. David Ensign is a half-brother of Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.
The Nugget also said a Nugget director, David Serafini, will become the general manager of the Red Garter.
“With all of the casualties in the gaming industry throughout the state, we are ecstatic to be able turn this unfortunate situation into a positive transition,” Serafini said. “Our goal is to immediately improve the Red Garter product, and in doing so, make it a competitive player in the Wendover market.”
He said that ultimately the Red Garter will be a “nice complement to the Wendover Nugget, doubling the offerings to its existing patrons.”
The Nugget owners acquired the Stateline Hotel and Casino from bankruptcy seven years ago and renamed it the Nugget, and they said the Red Garter likely will be renamed in the next 12 to 16 months once it has a multi-million-dollar makeover.
Plans call for a new slot floor that will be fully functional in four weeks, with the rest of the remodeling to take place throughout the year.
West Wendover City Manager Chris Melville said Tuesday that Generation 2010 has approached the city about improving the Red Garter.
“We’re pleased that the operation will stay open and employ a good amount of people … so it will still be a viable business in the community,” he said.
The loss of the Red Garter would have hurt the community. Not only would workers lose their jobs, but the city would lose gaming revenue and taxes, Melville said.
He also said the purchase should also boost morale for the Red Garter employees who have worried for the past three years as rumors surfaced that the casino would shut down.
The Nugget owners put employment at roughly 150 at the Red Garter.
The Nugget announcement states that it has fast-tracked employment of the Red Garter staff, and many of them will continue working under the new management, while others have been offered work at the Wendover Nugget.
“We welcome the Red Garter employees into our family and look forward to making the Red Garter a prosperous operation within the Wendover market,” Serafini said.
The Red Garter was slated for public auction last Friday but the sale was postponed while the parties worked out a deal.
Melville said Sean Mowray, who was general manager of Holder Hospitality properties that included the Red Garter, was “always great to work with and always took a positive approach with the community.”
The Red Garter has three decades of history, the Nugget announcement states. Full House acquired the Red Garter in 1997 from Ted Chilton.