I'm a bit confused about the ownership/operation of Plaza and Vegas Club.
This came up in conversation Saturday evening at Golden Gate...someone asked who was running these properties now, and I was completely at a loss for an answer. I asked a few others, and nobody else could come up with a name.
Did some quick research, but I'm still a bit confused.
The properties are owned by Tamares Group...a private equity firm located in Liechtenstein. They do not hold a gaming license in Nevada. The properties were purchased along with Gold Spike and The Western from Jackie Gaughan in a partnership with Barrick Gaming in 2004. A year later, Tamares bought out the shares owned by Barrick.
From what I could tell, Navegante Group ran the gaming operations and possibly the hotel from 2005-2008. If you'll remember, Navegante Group are kinda the low-end goto contract operators for failing properties. They ran Sahara for SBE, and I believe they are currently running Hooters and LVH.
I've found a reference to Santo Gaming taking over operations in 2010. Tony Santo is a long time Strip property manager and would likely hold a gaming license. He also has Dr. Dave listed on his site...so I'd like to think that he's legit. This also lines up with an interview Steve Friess did on his podcast with Tony around that time.
Santo takes over Plaza
Santo Gaming Team
Every recent reference to Plaza/Vegas Club operations I've found is to a company called "Play LV". Their website is just a portal to Plaza and Vegas Club booking. I also found an article referring to them as the operator with Tony Santo as their CEO.
Play LV partnership
I guess my questions are: Who currently holds the gaming license for Plaza and Vegas Club? Who is the president/CEO of the hotels currently?
Reasons I ask:
The more time I spend at these places, the more I believe that they may be the worst operators/owners in all of Vegas. After my April visit, I wondered how Plaza could support a few thousand hockey fans when they couldn't keep toilets and sinks working for the few hundred people in the casino? Well, today it was announced that the hockey team deal had fell through. I had a discussion about Plaza with a manager at another property this past weekend. I was told that Plaza had some serious infrastructure issues...mainly related to the sewer and plumbing systems. Another manager at the same property chimed in that "there's no way that hockey deal will ever happen". Sure enough...
Assuming Tony Santo is still the CEO and holder of the gaming license, does the problem lie with him or Tamares Group? I'm wondering if Tamares knows or even cares how bad Plaza and Vegas Club are? They are not an American company, and outside of Plaza and Vegas Club have no other holdings in the casino industry.
Maybe this is a job for our resident ferret. I'd really like to know more about the Santo Gaming/Play LV/Tamares relationship...and is Tamares handicapping improving things there, or is Santo/PlayLV just a truly awful operator?
Just curious. Maybe a Vegas Gang topic for a future show?
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JeffinOKC responded on Thursday, 8th May 2014
I know a little bit and will share it. These are all things I think I know.
Tamares is primarily owned by one person (whose name I have heard, but do not remember) who lives in, I think, London. He has financial interests and connections all over the world. He gained some notoriety through being involved in the sale of weapons to Israel and is a supporter of a strong Israeli military.
Their Las Vegas investment was brought to them, I believe, and they were not actively looking to get in "the Vegas game". I think the Barrick people were the architects of the deal, but didn't have the bankroll needed, so the brought in Tamares. Tamares was interested because the deal involved the largest amount of real estate held by one entity in downtown Las Vegas. Jackie Gaughan had, by the time of the sale, amassed many parcels in the area, primarily east of the Western, but some spreading throughout downtown. Tamares has never made any pretense of being actively interested in the casino business. They want the maximum short term return for the least amount of investment. They have sold many (if not most) of their parcels in Las Vegas and a big buyer was Tony Hseih IIRC. I think some of the land the new City Hall sits on was purchased from Tamares. I think they felt they had to spend the money on the Plaza in order to get out eventually. And are not excited enough with the ROI to spend anything on the Las Vegas Club. In fact, I hear they have an insidious plan in place for the Las Vegas Club that will seal it's doom.
I think Tamares keeps an extremely low profile and has a streamlined organization. So much so, that any information about anything they have planned could be traced easily and directly to the source of the info. Which is why, even though I think Dr. Dave is pretty good friends with some executives at the Plaza, I don't want to ask him anything about it. Because I know he would never betray a confidence.
level42 replied on Thursday, 8th May 2014
Very interesting info Jeff...and pretty much what I expected.
FYI, I found this article today...answered some of my questions. I also did not know that Tamares owned the strip where Commonwealth, Don't Tell Mama, and Le Thai are located.