Members of the editorial staff here were a little sad to hear that John Ascuaga’s Nugget sold to a private investment firm. “Sad” seems like kind of a weird reaction. We’ve got nothing against Husky Finance or Global Gaming & Hospitality. We never heard of them until now. But we do know that owners from outside the region will make different decisions than the Ascuagas did.
Think about it. If there is a casino in this region that is going to host actual family events, as opposed to events that are just postured as “family,” it’s going to be the Sparks Nugget. And the Ascuagas are just so freaking nice. (And somehow, they’d remember your name.) If you ran into Stephen Ascuaga in Costco or Michonne at Scolari’s grocery, they always stopped to chat. They are members of this community.
We remember when Michonne took the casino’s reins, and everyone thought it was a titular assignment, until she actually started doing things. Yes, she made some tough decisions, downsizing staff and decreasing benefits, but she steered that ship right through some rough waters that drowned a half-dozen casinos. And it was her influence, in part, that actually made Victorian Avenue a place attractive to other businesses, even in the recession, even businesses that didn’t know their own name. We’re all familiar with John Ascuaga’s reputation for penny pinching, but when you look at how that casino expanded over the last 30 years, that parsimony fueled the engine that drove that thing.
You only know those things about members of your family, so in a way, it seems like they’re members of our families.
The Ascuagas are members of our community, and that’s why we’re feeling a little sad at this end of an era. We like to see members of our community succeed, it’s as simple as that. And we feel as though our feeling of appreciation to that family was returned to our families. Where are you going to take your family on the Fourth of July to see the fireworks? John Ascuaga’s Nugget. The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off is one of the biggest family events in all of Northern Nevada. Think about all the local artists who had CD release parties at the Nugget. There was a reason those happened there instead of other places. Think of all those photos of recipients of Nugget scholarships.
Anyway, we’d like to congratulate the Ascuagas on getting out while the getting was good, and we hope they’re going to stay around and take active roles in making Northern Nevada a better place for their families and ours.
As for Husky Finance and Global Gaming & Hospitality, when they’ve been around for 50 years, when they break all molds and turn those hotels into the largest artist colony in the U.S. and the casino floor into an all-platform entertainment environment, we’re sure we’ll have nice things to say about them. In the meantime, though, it’d be OK with us if they’d just rename the business the Sparks Nugget, so that members of local media could get the name right.