News | Fertitta brings Golden Nugget brand closer to isle

July 26, 2013

By Laura Elder | The Daily News

Island-born billionaire Tilman Fertitta has acquired what will be his fifth Golden Nugget Casino and the closest one yet to his hometown. 

Fertitta, who owns Houston-based Landry’s Inc., said Thursday he had expanded the Golden Nugget brand with the acquisition of a casino resort and hotel under construction next door to the highly successful L’Auberge Lake Charles Casino Resort. 

Fertitta is investing $600 million in the Lake Charles, La., property, which has secured the last gaming license issued by the state. The property will include 800 luxury hotel rooms and suites; an 18-hole championship golf course; a swank spa, retail shops and some of Landry’s signature restaurants, including Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse and Grotto Italian Ristorante, which recently opened in Galveston. The Lake Charles property also will include an 18,000-squarefoot ballroom, an entertainment showroom, meeting spaces a “oneof-a-kind” pool and a beach front and marina with more than 3,000 parking spaces, Fertitta said.

The Golden Nugget Casino and Resort, which is expected to open next year, also will include a state-of-the-art casino with more than 60 table games, a poker room and 1,600 of the newest slot machines in the world, Fertitta said. “I could not pass up the opportunity to build and operate a casino next door to my hometown,” Fertitta said. “The casino will be where Louisiana locals and Texans will want to play, stay and enjoy themselves.” 

State law prohibits casino gambling, driving Texans to markets such as Louisiana. But should gambling ever become legal in Texas, most industryobservers are betting Fertitta would be a Galveston casino operator.

“If I had the opportunity, I would love to do one in Galveston,” Fertitta said.

But until then, the Lake Charles property is only about two hours away from the Houston area, he said. Landry’s, a national restaurant, hospitality, gaming and entertainment company, has massive holdings in Galveston and Kemah, including The San Luis Resort complex, the Historic Galveston Island Pleasure Pier and Kemah Boardwalk.

Landry’s restaurant concepts inside Golden Nugget casinos help to drive business, Fertitta and other industry observers said. 

Landry’s already owns and operates more than 100 restaurants in the South Texas market under such names as Saltgrass Steakhouse, Morton’s Steakhouse, Landry’s Seafood House, Rainforest Cafe and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. 

Fertitta, through wholly-owned affiliates, operates four Golden Nugget Hotels and Casinos, which are in Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nev.; Atlantic City, N.J.; and Biloxi, Miss.

When asked whether he planned to continue increasing his casino holdings, Fertitta said: “I just look for good opportunities.”

Galveston Daily News, July 26, 2013