DESERTED OASIS

In her six years as director of Virgin Valley Family Services, Shawn Hotch had never seen anything like what greeted her when she arrived at work Tuesday morning.

"It looked like a DMV line," Hotch said about the crowd that had formed outside the nonprofit’s tiny Mesquite office by 8 a.m., an hour before the office opened.

The people waiting to get inside were all from the Black Gaming’s Oasis hotel-casino, which announced Monday that it was laying off 500 workers while it suspends operations of the resort’s casino and restaurants. Most of the property’s hotel rooms were closed beginning Friday.

"This is frightening because this is just Mesquite," said Hotch, who oversees an office that helps families weed through unemployment applications, food stamp applications and other social services.

She and the office’s one caseworker saw 60 people Tuesday, although Hotch said other people saw the line Tuesday morning and left. On a normal busy day the office handles about 20 people.

David Bly, editor and general manager of the twice-weekly local newspaper, Desert Valley Times, said the community was shocked by the announcement by Black Gaming, the city’s largest employer.

"Everybody’s trying to figure out what it will mean," Bly said. "What will this do to business? Will this be a spiral downward or will people rally and unite the community?"

City government, local churches and nonprofits are rallying to help the city of 20,000 deal with what the mayor described on Thursday as an "unprecedented event that has people really fearful."

"Our community is fairly small so this is something that everyone is talking about," Mayor Susan Holecheck said. "What are we going to do? How does it affect other businesses? What about these families that aren’t going to have as enjoyable a Christmas?"

Holecheck has been in contact with state unemployment officials about traveling the 80 miles northeast on Interstate 15 from Las Vegas to help the affected workers with claims.

Mesquite Stake President Craig Hafen said Mormon Church leaders are pushing a monthly meeting up to Sunday to discuss the layoffs.

"We’re very concerned about people’s well-being," Hafen said.

Hotch believes the layoffs will cost the city some families.

"There is no way that those 500 people can go somewhere else in Mesquite and get a job," he explained. "It’s hard enough for anybody to find one, let alone so many people."

If families do have to leave the city, more job losses could follow.

Holecheck noted that the area could lose teachers if families have to pull students out of school to move to new jobs.

The Oasis has been winding down operations since the announcement was made Monday.

The casino’s 27 table games were shut down then, and on Thursday, slot technicians began removing money and shutting down a few slot machines. The restaurants also were slowly winding down operations Thursday.

After Friday, the property will maintain a block of 100 of the Oasis’ 900 rooms for walk-in customers. The Denny’s, which is near the casino but is owned by an outside company, will also remain open, Marty Rapson, Black Gaming’s vice president of marketing, said Thursday.

There were no signs hanging advising customers about the closures, but long-time Oasis workers chatted with frequent customers about the uncertainty that awaited them once they finished their shifts Friday.

Workers, however, were reluctant to talk to the media for fear of not being brought back if the hotel-casino should reopen or jobs become available at the company’s other two Mesquite properties — Virgin River and the CasaBlanca. The company said all the laid-off workers have been put on a list to be rehired when, or if, the property increases operations.

Two workers quoted in the Mesquite paper’s Friday edition declined to use their real names.

"They don’t want to go on the record," said Bly, who came to Mesquite from Calgary, Ontario, in 2006. "And that’s part of the story."

Despite the layoffs this week, there is still a feeling of optimism that the small town will rally.

"Five hundred jobs in a town this size is a disaster," Bly said. "Also, at a town this size people can help each other. There’s a good spirit of people saying let’s do something, let’s stick together, help each other.

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like