Regulators approve sale of Colorado Grande Casino

Signs stating that the Ranch Liborio store on South Circle Drive had closed were posted this week. Earlier signs proclaimed the store was closed only temporarily for remodeling. Photo by RICH LADEN, THE GAZETTE

A limited liability company formed by the managing partner of Johnny Nolon’s Casino plans to complete its purchase of the Colorado Grande Hotel & Casino on Friday after state regulators approved the deal Thursday.

G Investments LLC, headed by David Minter, will pay $3.2 million to Nevada Gold & Casinos Inc. for the Colorado Grande in Cripple Creek, which features 188 slot machines, seven hotel rooms and a full-service restaurant. Houston-based Nevada Gold, which owns 10 other casinos in Washington, agreed in November to sell the Colorado Grande to G Investments.

Minter is managing partner of Minter Holdings LLC, owner of Johnny Nolon’s, and serves as the casino’s general manager. He also was general manager of the Colorado Grande from 1993-97.

The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission approved a license Thursday for G Investments, the final approval needed for the transaction to be completed. The gaming commission also approved a license for Partners CC LLC to reopen the Gold Rush Hotel & Casino, which closed in 2010 after a lease dispute with the building’s owner.

Once the sale of the Colorado Grande is complete, it and Johnny Nolon’s will share top management, including a general manager, controller, slot manager, compliance officer and information technology and human resources staff, but will retain the Colorado Grande’s 65 employees and Johnny Nolon’s 50 employees, Minter said.

“I have talked about acquiring this casino for the 15 years since I left the Colorado Grande,” Minter said. “I am excited and a little bit scared now that the deal is nearly complete. It is still a tough market and anytime you put a lot of your own money on the line it is scary to some degree, but this is one of my favorite casinos that I have run. I am excited about freshening it up, doing more promotions and getting it back to being a successful casino.”

Colorado Grande removed its four blackjack tables on Sunday and G Investments plans to install 27 additional slot machines in the next month after upgrading and extending electrical power in that area of the casino, he said.

“I hope this will make us a stronger player with more than 450 slot machines so we are more competitive with the larger casinos in Cripple Creek,” Minter said. “These are two of the smaller casinos in town, so I expect we will still be a niche player, but this will make us more competitive.”

Nevada Gold CEO Robert Sturges said in November that the company agreed to sell the Colorado Grande because “owning a single, small property in the Cripple Creek market is no longer attractive for us as we are focused on properties with greater earnings potential going forward.”

Meanwhile, Joanna Walters, chief operating officer of the Gold Rush, said Partners CC is planning to spend up to $1.5 million to renovate the hotel and casino and plans to open in June with 290 slot machines, three blackjack tables and a poker table, and a staff of about 100 people. The complex also includes 14 hotel rooms and a full-service restaurant that will be reopened as The Reserve at The Rush and will feature buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The owners plan to expand to 345 slot machines and add roulette and craps tables within a year.

“I am excited because it has been a real push to get here. The real challenge will come once we open, but I feel fortunate to be in this position,” Walters said. “Our investor team has been working for 18 months to get to this point and we are working tirelessly to open as soon as possible to open the best casino we can.”

Walters, of Golden, is one of three partners in the Gold Rush with Lance Dehning of Longmont and Mike Huey of Lafayette. All three have a background in real estate investing. Dehning serves as CEO of the Gold Rush, while Huey is chief engineering officer. They hired longtime casino manager David Schneiter as general manager of the Gold Rush.—Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilmanFacebook Wayne Heilman

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