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Eastside Cannery keeping business licenses active while closed

Operators of the Eastside Cannery can keep the shuttered casino closed for up to two more years without losing several business licenses, county officials said in approving a plan Tuesday.

Clark County officials unanimously approved a request from Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming, the operators behind the Boulder Highway hotel-casino that’s been closed since the pandemic’s onset in March 2020, to waive licensing requirements for up to two years. The approval also includes two six-month extensions should site operators show good cause.

Boyd has kept the property closed long past COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were lifted, citing a decline in market demand around Boulder Highway. The property is next door to another Boyd-owned casino, Sam’s Town, which has absorbed players, Boyd’s Chief Compliance Officer Michelle Rasmusson said in a request letter to county officials.

“Currently, Boyd Gaming has plenty of excess capacity at Sam’s Town, and market conditions do not support a property of Eastside Cannery’s reopening right now,” Rasmusson wrote in the letter. “Our Eastside Cannery customers, gaming and non-gaming alike, have consolidated to Sam’s Town until demand requires additional capacity for both properties.”

Rasmusson also said the property could not staff appropriately if it were to reopen. She said the company had about 400 open positions excluding the property, and that it could take six months to hire enough staff to manage the property.

The property hasn’t been completely vacant during the four-year closure. Rasmusson said the property served as a Three Square Food Bank distribution site during the pandemic and has been used for public safety training, including active shooter trainings for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and elevator rescue training for the Clark County Fire Department, among other simulations.

Even still, the company said it spends about $500,000 each month on maintaining the property. It’s required to open for one day per quarter through a Nevada Gaming Control Board regulation and plans to be open on Sept. 30, Oct. 1, March 31 and April 1, 2025.

“This facility is an extremely important facility along Boulder Highway,” Commissioner Jim Gibson said before the approval. “The company has suggested a plan. We value their judgment, not ours. The one thing I would say is the maintenance there has been impeccable. We appreciate very much the way the Boyd group has stepped up and taken care of its facility. We’re hopeful at some point in time that it will restore itself to commercial use and be a really important part of their organization.”

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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