Nugget Casino Resort

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Nugget Casino Resort
Nugget casino logo.png
John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort.jpg
Location Sparks, Nevada, U.S.
Address 1100 Nugget Avenue
Opening dateMarch 17, 1955; 64 years ago (1955-03-17)
No. of rooms1,600
Total gaming space52,000 sq ft (4,800 m2)
Signature attractionsCelebrity Showroom
Rose Ballroom
Notable restaurantsNoodle Hut
Oyster Bar
Rotisserie Buffet
Rosie's Café
Tailgate Deli
The Steakhouse Grill
OwnerMarnell Gaming
ArchitectPeter B. Wilday Architects
Sheehan, Haase & Van Woert
Previous namesDick Graves' Nugget (1955–1960)
John Ascuaga's Nugget (1960–2013)
Renovated in1984: East Tower
1996: West Tower
2008: East Tower
2017: Resort Tower
Coordinates39°31′59″N 119°45′29″W / 39.533°N 119.758°W / 39.533; -119.758Coordinates: 39°31′59″N 119°45′29″W / 39.533°N 119.758°W / 39.533; -119.758

Nugget Casino Resort (formerly Dick Graves' Nugget and John Ascuaga's Nugget) is a hotel and casino located in Sparks, Nevada. It is owned and operated by Marnell Gaming. The main portion of the casino consists of two 29-story towers nestled between Interstate 80 and the Union Pacific rail yard. There are additional attached buildings underneath and across I-80 from the towers. It is located in Downtown Sparks at the Victorian Square.[1]


Dick Graves' Nugget was opened on March 17, 1955. Graves and Jim Kelly opened the Carson Nugget on March 1, 1954, in Carson City. In 1960, John Ascuaga (born 1925), then general manager, bought the Nugget.[2][3][4][5] Ascuaga had little money when he purchased the small venue so he paid via loan, which he paid back in full within the number of years granted. Ascuaga earned money from the success of his business, which led him to expand, over and over again, throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The Celebrity Showroom, first known as the Circus Room, was constructed in the 1960s and played host to Liberace, Sergio Franchi, The Osmond Brothers, Robert Goulet and others. Construction began shortly thereafter and was completed December 26, 1984. Ascuaga deemed it one more Christmas present to the community and also deemed it an "exclamation point in the sky".

The Nugget's primary attraction from 1962 to the late 1990s was Bertha the Elephant and her baby, Tina, who entertained in the Circus Room many a time. They were also attractions at the annual Nevada Day parade in Carson City. Bertha died in the late 1990s.[6]

In 1995, John Ascuaga announced that a second tower would be built, costing $75 million. Ascuaga designed it with local architect Peter B. Wilday, whose works include the Atlantis and the Peppermill. The tower opened along with a new restaurant and hotel lobby on December 26, 1996. That was the last major expansion done by the Nugget. In 1997, Ascuaga's daughter Michonne took over as CEO, running the hotel and casino along with her brother Stephen. The two said at the time they would keep the business in the family and continue to make re-investments. They also said there was no need for more hotel rooms.[7]

The hotel hosts popular events such as the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off held annually in September, considered one of the largest in the country. Also, on July 4, the Star-Spangled Sparks celebration, as well as the largest fireworks show in Northern Nevada after New Year's Eve in Downtown Reno.

Sale to Global Gaming and Hospitality and Marnell Gaming[edit]

On October 10, 2013, the Ascuaga family announced it had reached an agreement with Las Vegas-based Global Gaming And Hospitality to sell the 1600 room property. A sale price was not disclosed, arguably the last lone family run casino/resort in the industry, of which had no sister properties or outside backing, the Ascuagas affirm they were not in a position to improve their property. Global Gaming CEO Cartlon Geer, who has roots to Northern Nevada, became the new CEO and President. He confirmed that with the help of partner Husky Finance, they began in 2014 $50 million worth of improvements and remodeling to the property.

The sale closed December 16, 2013.[8] The Ascuagas remained on board in advisory roles through the transition and after the sale was completed.

In July 2014, the Nugget Courtyard building was sold to The Siegel Group[9] and renamed Siegel Suites Sparks.

Global Gaming and Hospitality sold the Nugget to Marnell Gaming in May 2016.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Listing of Financial Statements Square Footage". Nevada Gaming Control Board. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  2. ^ "John Ascuaga". Nevada Business Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  3. ^ Schreiber, Colleen (September 18, 1997). "Hard work and family key to John Ascuaga's Nugget". Livestock Weekly. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  4. ^ "John Ascuaga". University of Nevada. Basque oral history project. 1992. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  5. ^ "John Ascuaga doesn't look back". Reno Gazette-Journal. October 10, 2009. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  6. ^ Bertha the Elephant Source: Reno Gazette Journal
  7. ^ "Hard Work And Family Key To John Ascuaga's Nugget". Livestock Weekly. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  8. ^ "John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino sale finalized". KRNV-DT. Retrieved 2014-06-07.
  9. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Nugget Casino Resort sale finalized". Northern Nevada Business Weekly. May 6, 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-06.

External links[edit]