Hard Rock owner: Eldorado properties may sell again | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hard Rock owner: Eldorado properties may sell again

by Kurt Hildebrand
Paragon Gaming Chairwoman of the Board Diana Bennett spoke at the Critical Issues Conference on Thursday.
Kurt Hildebrand

One of the owners of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino said Thursday she wouldn’t be surprised if two of the three Stateline properties involved in the Caesars Eldorado Resorts merger were sold in the near future.

Harveys, Harrah’s and MontBleu Casino Resort & Spa were all involved in the merger, which Paragon Gaming Chairwoman of the Board Diana Bennett said might result in further property sales.

“I think you’re going to see two of those properties being sold again,” she said. “That could be good for the area. With three of them being held by Eldorado, I don’t see they’ll see major improvements if they don’t get sold again. I could be wrong. Putting some money into them would be really important to making Stateline a more improved destination.”

Bennett was the keynote speaker at the 27th annual Critical Issues Conference at the Carson Valley Inn in Minden.

A second-generation casino operator, Bennett said there isn’t much unique about the inside of a casino.

“In Reno and Tahoe you have to take advantage of what you have that makes you unique,” she said. “I think Tahoe has never taken advantage of fall. Fall in Tahoe is gorgeous.”

She pointed out that while Western Nevada tourists focus on summer and winter, they don’t do much with the shoulder seasons.

“We have to sell what’s so beautiful here,” she said. “I walked up and down the street yesterday when we got here, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘This is so beautiful. I wonder what my family would do if I said I think I want to retire to Minden.’ We need to figure out what is so unique about your environment.”

Paragon Gaming is the majority shareholder of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Stateline.

Bennett said taking over the Hard Rock was like coming home because her father got his start in gaming at the Sahara Tahoe.

“I was so excited,” she said. “That’s the first place my dad ever had a job in gaming.”

Bennett said she attended Whittell High School for a year until her father, gaming legend William Bennett was transferred to Las Vegas

“My dad only worked here for one year before they gave him a promotion to Las Vegas as assistant general manager of the Mint and then made him general manager of the Sahara,” she said. “For me to be able come back and own the property that was his very first job was something very special.”

Bennett and Paragon co-founder Scott Menke took over the Hard Rock when it was the subject of around 60 lawsuits filed in the wake of its remodel.

“We’ve been able to gradually turn that property around from a losing proposition to a profitable proposition,” she said.

She was positive about Tahoe’s future as a gaming destination.

“The thing that is so exciting is the recognition that we have to take Tahoe from a seasonal destination where people only come in the summer and the winter to a year-round destination,” she said. “The events center and the pedestrian walkway are such a major part of making Tahoe a year round destination.”

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