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Downtown hotel-casino plans $20M renovation

Updated May 9, 2024 - 7:19 pm

One of downtown Las Vegas’ oldest casinos plans to make things new with a $20 million casino renovation.

El Cortez will add a high-limit slot room, two new bars, a restaurant and a coffee shop during expansive renovations that begin this summer, according to a Thursday news release.

The additions come a few years after the property spent $30 million to renovate its original 47 rooms along with renovations to its tower premium rooms, high limit room and casino floor bathrooms, resort officials said.

“We are thrilled to unveil our latest expansion project, which represents a significant milestone for El Cortez and the community of downtown Vegas,” CEO and Chairman Kenny Epstein said in the release. “These enhancements arrive at a pivotal moment of heightened demand from both locals and visitors to Fremont Street. We are excited to continue to elevate the guest experience with these additions, ensuring every visit is filled with comfort, convenience and timeless hospitality.”

Crews will expand the casino’s footprint by 10,000 square feet as part of the project, property representatives said. They’ll also renovate 4,000 square feet of the existing casino floor and modify the existing high-limit room to be dedicated for table games. The expansion will also include a Starbucks opening in June 2024 and a modern Asian food concept, Hot Noods by Chinglish, in early 2025.

The new bars will be a roulette-themed bar, in place of popular local hangout Ike’s, and a show bar with a live music stage and a 20-by-10 foot screen for black-and-white movies and live sports toward the casino center. The roulette bar will be circular with game details on the ceiling, General Manager Adam Wiesberg said.

“With all the young people coming in, we have to stick to our history – we’ll be 83 this year,” Wiesberg said. “The young people want to be a part of that, so we have to continue to stay modern and exciting. These new bars will create a new energy.”

Wiesberg said the new high-limit slot room was in part developed out of increased attention on social media. El Cortez management wanted a more secluded and manageable filming space for high-limit slot-playing content creators who visit.

The expansion is being led by McCarthy Building Companies, Ike Gaming, JIVE Architecture and interior design firm Kenneth Ussenko Design, according to the release.

“We’re grateful to partner with such an experienced team who understands the significance of this investment for downtown and the El Cortez Hotel & Casino,” Ross Edwards, senior vice president at McCarthy Building Companies, said in the release. ”We’re not just focused on meeting expectations; we’re committed to exceeding them and ensuring a great experience for everyone who walks through the property’s doors.”

The gambling hall on Fremont Street has long held a special place in the city’s history since opening its doors in 1941. The property even earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on X.

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