Casino owner said to cancel regatta

April 11, 2019

LAUGHLIN — The Laughlin River Regatta is reportedly dead in the water.

Word spread like wildfire Wednesday night through the Tri-state after Golden Entertainment, the owners of the Aquarius, Edgewater and Colorado Belle casinos in Laughlin, canceled its planned Aug. 10 float on the Colorado River.

In 2017, following cancellation of the then-named Bullhead City River Regatta a year earlier, Marnell Gaming approached the Bullhead City Council and bought the rights and intellectual property with the plan to take over operation of the regatta.

There was no official regatta in 2017, but in 2018, it was rebranded the Laughlin River Regatta. While the turnout was a little more than 10,000 participants, well below the 15,000 anticipated and a far cry from the 25,000-plus crowds that packed the river during Bullhead City’s final years operating the event, Marnell Gaming CEO Anthony Marnell III termed it a success and vowed to bring it back in 2019.

Marnell conducted several river cleanups as part of its commitment to running the regatta and minimizing the environmental impact that helped lead to its demise following the 2016 edition.

Golden Entertainment, which bought out Marnell Gaming late last year, had been assigned the rights to the regatta by the Bullhead City Council, which in October voted unanimously to authorize a contract for use of Rotary Park as the ending point for the 2019 regatta.

Registration for the Aug. 10 regatta was supposed to have begun earlier this month, but the regatta’s website didn’t contain a mechanism for participants to register, nor any information about the status of this year’s scheduled float.

Golden Entertainment reportedly notified employees of its Laughlin properties of the cancellation on Wednesday. It didn’t take long for the news to get out, thanks in part to social media.

While Golden Entertainment officials were not available for comment Wednesday night, several people confirmed that the regatta had been cancelled. No reason was given.

Several people with knowledge of the cancellation said Golden Entertainment or one of its affiliated properties is expected to make an official announcement today.

Timothy Williams, chairman of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, responded by email to a request for comment Wednesday night. The tribe has been among the most vocal critics of the regatta.

“The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe welcomes the announcement to the cancellation of the 2019 Laughlin River Regatta,” Williams’ statement said. “We are proud to have held firmly to our core values as Mojave people. Now begins the healing process of our communities.”

Jackie Mazzio, executive director of the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce, declined comment until seeing the official announcement.

John Pynakker, president and CEO of the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce, said he was not aware of the cancellation. He declined further comment.