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Commission approves licensing for state’s newest casino project

Updated June 24, 2022 - 7:53 pm

The state’s newest casino, Legends Bay Casino, is scheduled to open in Northern Nevada in August after the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday unanimously approved its licensing.

The casino’s Las Vegas-based operator Olympia Gaming, led by Garry Goett, will construct the first from-the-ground-up casino property in the Reno-Sparks area in more than 20 years.

The $120 million property — small by Las Vegas standards — will have a 40,000-square-foot casino with 660 slot machines and 10 table games staffed by 300 employees. Finishing touches are underway at the development near Sparks Marina Park Lake along Interstate 80, east of Reno.

Goett opened Casino Fandango in Carson City in 2003 and top managers there will also oversee Legends.

It’ll also have a sportsbook operated by Derek Stevens’ Circa Sports, his first operation in Northern Nevada.

Licensing for the sportsbook was unanimously approved in a separate vote.

Goett plans to bring the popular Duke’s Steak House concept from Casino Fandango to Legends. “Duke” is Goett’s nickname.

Legends also will have a “Food Truck Hall” that will include street eats served from food trucks by Pizza Genius (pizza, Italian food and submarine sandwiches), Loco Bueno (Mexican food) and Red 88 (Asian cuisine).

The property will include the 24-hour LB Grill, which Goett described as more than a cafe with a full-meal menu, and Craft 55, pouring 55 of the top local and regional craft brews.

A Galaxy Theatres complex with an IMAX screen shares a common wall with the casino property.

The casino will be adjacent to two hotels Olympia already owns — a 104-room Residence Inn by Marriott and a 102-room Hampton Inn &Suites — and a retail center known as the Outlets at Legends. The shopping center’s anchor tenant is sporting goods chain Scheels.

In an interview earlier this month, Goett said Olympia took advantage of waiting for the right time to go forward with the project. The company had purchased the land in 2007 and prepared the property’s design in 2008. The Legends Bay Casino and Scheels were going to be the anchor tenants for the 120-acre Outlets at Legends project.

But when the Great Recession took hold, Goett’s team delayed breaking ground on the casino.

Over the next decade, Olympia opted to downsize the casino from a $500 million property to a $350 million property, eventually arriving at the size it is today. Olympia reset the financing of the project to more than half equity and 40 percent debt. It broke ground in March 2021.

In other business Thursday, the commission unanimously approved by consent county fair horse races in Ely and Elko.

The board voted unanimously to permit races for Agriculture District No. 13, Aug. 19-21, in Ely, and for the Elko County Fair Board, Aug. 26 through Sept. 5, in Elko.

Horse races in eastern Nevada feature thoroughbreds and quarter horses and are well-attended county fair events. Parimutuel wagering is permitted on the races and there’s normally six to 10 races a day.

The commission also voted to appoint Nicole Rupert as executive secretary of the commission and Control Board.

She will replace retiring executive secretary Marie Bell, who held the role since January 2015.

Licensing applicants, commissioners and board members applauded Bell’s efforts in her final meeting Thursday. The board had recommended Rupert in a special meeting earlier on Thursday.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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