Golden Nugget Las Vegas
The Golden Nugget Las Vegas is a luxury casino- hotel located in Las Vegas, Nevada on the Fremont Street Experience. The property is owned and operated by Landry's Restaurants. It is the largest casino in the downtown area, with a total of 2,345 deluxe guest rooms and suites. It has also maintained AAA's Four Diamond rating consecutively for 32 years from 1977 through 2009. It is one of only two resorts inside the city limits of Las Vegas to earn this distinction, the other being The Resort at Summerlin.

The Golden Nugget was originally built in 1946, making it one of the oldest casinos in the city. Steve Wynn bought a stake in the Nugget, which he increased so that, in 1973, he became the majority shareholder, and the youngest casino owner in Las Vegas. In 1977 he opened the first hotel tower and the resort earned its first four diamond rating from Mobil Travel Guide. It was the foundation for Wynn's rise to prominence in the casino industry. The second hotel tower opened in 1984 along with the showroom, and the third tower was opened in 1989. On 31 May 2000, the Golden Nugget (and all of Steve Wynn's other properties) was sold to Kirk Kerkorian; the consolidated corporation was known as MGM Mirage and has been the largest casino corporation in Las Vegas since that date. Although the Golden Nugget was profitable, it was not part of the master expansion plan of the corporation which was focused on consolidating a long stretch of the Strip by acquiring Mandalay Resort Group, building City Center, and beginning construction in Macau. Gaming revenue on Fremont Street had peaked in fiscal year 1993. The Golden Nugget was sold for $215 million to Poster Financial Group, owned by Timothy Poster and Thomas Breitling in 2004. When Poster Financial assumed control of the Golden Nugget, they began to upgrade the gambling operation by installing new cashless slot machines and by increasing the maximum bet available at table games to $15,000. Their story became the basis for The Casino , a television series on Fox that premiered on June 14, 2004. On February 4, 2005, Houston, Texas-based Landry's Restaurants, Inc. announced its intent to purchase the property and the Golden Nugget Laughlin. The sale closed on September 27, 2005. After the purchase, the Golden Nugget embarked on a 14-month, $100 million renovation project, which was completed in November 2006. In December 2007, the Golden Nugget completed its $70 million Phase II project, which expanded the resort west onto First Street and introduced additional entertainment, event and dining venues. Phase III was the opening of a 500 room, $150 million dollar hotel tower on 20 November 2009 along with the Chart House restaurant.

Media history
  • In the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever (1971), the casino can be continually seen in the police chase scene.
  • The casino can be seen in the beginning of the film Smokin' Aces (2006), in which the antagonist cuts the ribbons for the casino's grand opening.
  • In the film Next (2007), Nicolas Cage is briefly seen entering the Golden Nugget through the Fremont Street entrance.
  • The Golden Nugget features prominently in the poker mockumentary The Grand (2008).
  • The Casino (2004), a Fox reality television series is based on the story of the Golden Nugget's acquisition by Poster Financial Group.
  • In 2006, the cowboy on the Golden Nugget sign closes the season 6 episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation , titled " Kiss-Kiss, Bye-Bye".
  • In 2010, the casino's pool and shark aquarium were featured throughout an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation .
In games
  • In all Street Fighter II games (except HD Remix), Balrog's (M. Bison in Japanese) stage is at the Golden Nugget. The Golden Nugget sign is clearly seen in the back. In HD Remix, it has been changed to the "Crazy Buffalo".
  • The name Golden Nugget also designates casino games on Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, and personal computers.

The world's largest gold nugget on display, the Hand of Faith, is displayed in the Golden Nugget lobby. Weighing 875 troy ounces or 27.21 kilograms and 46 centimeters in length, the Hand of Faith was found near the Golden Triangle in Australia, and put on display at the casino in 1981 amid a number of other gold nuggets. The casino's large hotel sign at its entrance off Fremont and Casino Center was removed in 1984 when the casino underwent renovations. The old sign presently sits at the YESCO signage yard. The expanded resort is built around two aquariums. The largest faces the swimming pool, and incorporates a slide through the tank containing full grown sharks. The smaller aquarium is in the lobby of the Rush Tower. A total of five specialty restaurants were added: Vic and Anthony's steakhouse, The Grotto Italian food, Lillie's Asian Cuisine, Red Sushi, and the Chart House Seafood Restaurant. The Chart House has a view of one of the aquariums.

Golden Nugget and Poster Financial Group
Tom Breitling and Tim Poster were the highest profile successful entrepreneurs who profited in the downtown market during the last crisis. As recounted in Tom Breitling's book, Double or Nothing, the partners agreed to buy the Golden Nugget and had an agreement to sell the property after operating it for only one year. The partners made $113 million in profit called the highest rate of return in such a short time in the gaming industry. Amazingly enough the partners had a negative income for the year and the fortune was made while total revenue for downtown was still basically flat.

Golden Nugget and the recession
Revenue at the Golden Nugget has dropped in the recession. The chart below shows the quarterly revenue at the Golden Nugget since it was owned by MGM Mirage, through its acquisition by Poster financial group, and its purchase and renovation by Landrys Restaurants. Frank Martin noted after the last quarterly report that the revenue from the previous year at the Golden Nugget was lower than the year 2004 when it was owned by Poster Financial Group.

Timeline of Poster & Breitling (Poster Financial Group) ownership of Golden Nugget Date Description Year 2000 Tom Breitling and Tim Poster sell their web based business for over $100 million Early 2003 Tom Breitling and Tim Poster begin shopping for a quality affordable casino for their vision of Vintage Vegas Jun 2003 MGM-Mirage announced an agreement to sell the Golden Nugget (Las Vegas & Laughlin) to Poster Financial Group for $215m Jan 2004 Binion's Horseshoe across the street from Golden Nugget closed because of IRS liens Jan 2004 Poster & Breitling take possession of the Golden Nugget. Introduce policy high-limit policy on table games Jun 2004 Fox Reality Show The Casino about Tim and Tom debuts but quickly cancelled because of dismal ratings Jun 2004 Tim and Tom are two of the 50 Hottest Bachelors in People Magazine Sep 2004 High-limit policy policy backfires, as lucky gambler known as Mr. Royalty wins $8.5 million on a 2 week hot streak Dec 2004 Annual report filed with SEC shows net loss of $9.196m for Poster Financial Group for the year 2004 Dec 2004 Landry's Restaurant successfully executed a refinancing of $850m Feb 2005 Agreement of sale entered with Landry's Restaurant for Golden Nugget Sep 2005 Landry's Restaurant takes possession of the Golden Nugget.