Riviera operators get initial approval to run Westgate

The operators of the shuttered Riviera are moving across the street.

The state Gaming Control Board today granted its initial blessing for executives from Paragon Gaming, the company that was running the Riviera when it closed last week, to manage the Westgate Las Vegas.

Paragon’s Diana Bennett and Scott Menke will now need final approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission as they transition to their next property, located just behind the Riviera on Paradise Road.

Westgate Resorts took over the former LVH last year and rebranded it Westgate Las Vegas.

An attorney representing the property told the gaming board today that CEO David Siegel sought out Paragon and is willing to rely on its expertise to revive the aging hotel-casino, which has also been known as the Las Vegas Hilton and the International.

Paragon replaces Navegante Group as the licensed gaming operator of the Westgate. Paragon will manage the gaming and nongaming sides of the property, with the exception of its timeshare business.

Menke said the Westgate will benefit from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s expansion — a project that will replace the Riviera. He said he thinks the Westgate can “shine again” and that the new ownership is being “very aggressive” in attempts to transform it into a destination resort.

Paragon officials aren’t the only aspect of the Riviera making the transition. Menke also indicated that some meetings business from the recently closed property will find a new home at the Westgate.

In recommending approval of Paragon, gaming board members said they felt the company was a good fit for the Westgate.

“You were successful at the Riviera in the short amount of time that you were there, and I think you’ll be successful at this property,” Chairman A.G. Burnett said.

Improved occupancy should be one of the new Westgate operators’ first goals. Paragon, which ran the Riviera for about two years, was able to boost occupancy there from less than 60 percent to more than 80 percent, Menke said.

Since becoming the Westgate, the property has seen numerous changes, including a new Elvis exhibit. Menke said today that the property’s entire meeting space will also be revamped.