The Carson Nugget’s new chief executive, talking possible new hotel rooms nearby and endorsing a downtown remake, Tuesday touted change both inside and outside his casino.
Dean DiLullo, Nugget CEO for four months and a gaming industry veteran as a financial analyst and marketer, said he’s ramping up his revamp of what he calls the iconic casino to lure locals because the industry is much different than when he began with the Tropicana in Las Vegas 28 years ago. Better service and food, a coffee/wine bar and less smoke were among the immediate goals or done deeds on his radar screen.
“I’m talking about a commitment to service,” said DiLullo, speaking at his own casino to the Rotary Club, which meets there weekly. Among the first things he did when he took over, he said, was to alter the gaming floor setup, deep clean carpets and change the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system to improve the gaming experience and banish the smoke-filled atmosphere.
“There’s a lot less smoke,” he said, and his service upgrade means he has a floor person on duty to field complaints or provide any other help necessary round the clock.
DiLullo said his topflight coffee and wine bar will have a Carson Street entrance and take up space on the west side in what was part of the cafe. He said the casual food outlet was too large for good service and has already been cut by a third to accommodate the new beverage bar. He said he hopes to open it by next spring.
“It will have the best wines in all of Carson — guaranteed,” he promised. He said there would be no gaming in it. He said he also is upgrading food fare in the steak house.
DiLullo has widened casino aisles, he said, rearranged slot machines and located the gaming pit in a new spot to increase the take. He said it has increased 54 percent in 30 days.
“This place just needs a little love and attention,” he said. “I’m not turning this from a loser into a winner. This is a winner.”
DiLullo said Steve Neighbors of the Hop & Mae Adams Foundation that owns the casino approached him after he and investors engineered a turnaround in the Boomtown casino west of Reno. He said they have forged a deal in which DiLullo will own the gaming business when the deal closes. The foundation property arm will retain the property.
DiLullo was asked about hotel rooms, the Ormsby House just blocks away, his take on downtown and other matters.
“From what I hear, rooms are coming,” he said. That was a reference to prospects for a downtown hotel, tech conference center and retailing. He said the Nugget could make it without rooms, but rooms would help. He said the industry used to be 80 percent gaming, 20 percent lodging, food and related amenities. “That’s completely changed.“
DiLullo said that means solid service, great food/beverage offerings and good lodging make sense as part of the package. He also said he hoped the Ormsby House will open and gave a full-throated endorsement to downtown changes.
“I’m pro-business,” he said.
“I believe that all boats rise in high tide. The downtown development, I think, is going to be fantastic.”