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Vegas dive bar with big-name guest performers gets gaming license

Updated January 31, 2024 - 7:58 pm

A historic Las Vegas dive bar has a gaming license after the Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously approved licensing for the Hard Hat Lounge in an unusual hearing last week.

Frankie Sidoris, a longtime guitarist with a touring band headed by Slash, was approved for the license following a hearing in which he participated while riding in a car in Bogota, Colombia.

“I hope you’re a passenger,” said Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Togliatti, a former judge, as she viewed Sidoris onscreen in a moving vehicle.

“I am a passenger,” Sidoris said, laughing.

Sidoris appeared in person at a Nevada Gaming Control Board hearing earlier in January and as that body gave him an affirmative recommendation. But during the commission meeting, Sidoris was touring in South America. He said during the hearing that he’ll continue to be on the road with Slash, the on-and-off lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses, with stops ahead in Australia, Southeast Asia and Europe.

Sidoris acquired the Hard Hat Lounge, at 1675 Industrial Road, in August 2022 and reopened it in early December 2023 with Slash and an all-star band performing. Sidoris indicated surprise guest appearances will be a trademark for the Hard Hat, established in 1962.

The restricted license approved by commissioners enables the operation to have up to 15 slot machines. Sidoris indicated an application is already on file for a licensed key executive who will oversee operations when he’s on the road.

“Usually, I’d say the average is I’m gone about a month at a time, then I’m home for about a month. But at this moment, I’m gone until Feb. 14,” he said.

Commissioners supported the licensing and said they were happy Sidoris plans to keep the historic vibe of Hard Hat.

“I love that you have surprise shows at no cover charge for people to come and enjoy music,” Commissioner Ogonna Brown said. “It sounds like a wonderful, wonderful new addition to Las Vegas. I know this location is not new, but you’re infusing new energy into it. So good luck, and I’m excited to see what you do here in Las Vegas.”

The gaming license is part of the reason there are no cover charges for admission, since licensees are required to have public access to their gaming devices.

“Nevada, particularly Las Vegas, has a wonderful history of transforming itself and ‘New is better and if you’re not changing you’re losing,’ and all of that,” added Commissioner Brian Krolicki. “Sometimes you need to remember where you came from and preserve those historic nuggets of old Las Vegas.”

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

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