Three casinos to be demolished
Three Station Casinos properties -- Texas Station, Fiesta Rancho, and Fiesta Henderson -- that have been closed since the shutdown for the pandemic in 2020, will not reopen. Instead, the plan is for them to be demolished and the land underneath them sold.
The company said most of the closed casinos’ customers have moved on to other Station properties. Many customers of Texas Station and Fiesta Rancho have switched their patronage to Santa Fe Station to the northwest, while former customers of Fiesta Henderson now visit Sunset Station and Green Valley Ranch.
Advantage players had little opportunity at these casinos
Among advantage players, including card counters at the game of blackjack, all three casinos were referred to as “sweatshops,” a term used to describe casinos that are intolerant of skilled play at any betting level, even tiny stakes. Texas Station was particularly notorious for unpleasant backoffs, often involving the use of security guards to bully the unwanted patrons. The two Fiestas were more “civilized,” according to Marina del Rey, CA-based advantage player Rebecca, a frequent Las Vegas visitor who did not want her last name used. She commented, “The Fiestas were both quick to toss out anyone who flung around more than very small amounts and did not appear to be an idiot. But at least they were nice about it.”
North Las Vegas resort
“We’re working with the city of North Las Vegas on a potential development site for another large-scale casino resort,” Station Casinos President Scott Kreeger said. “We also are very interested in the tavern and small non-restricted space, and we have some investment plans in regard to that in North Las Vegas as well.”
Regarding Henderson, Kreeger said the company has a “great” relationship with the city. “And we love the dynamic nature of that city,” he said. “Not only do we have the Inspirada site, which we’re actively working through the entitlements and development processes there, but we also are investing quite substantial amounts of money in a rejuvenation and renovation at Sunset Station and also an offering of several new restaurant and gaming amenities at Green Valley Ranch.”
Station is presently building the large Durango Hotel & Casino in southwest Las Vegas and has started on a new project just east of downtown Las Vegas, a small Wildfire casino on East Fremont Street.
“Our worst-performing properties”
Kreeger said the decision to close Texas Station and the Fiestas made good business sense. “Even before the pandemic, they were our worst-performing properties. Post-pandemic, at least where we are today, we don’t see that it’s viable to reopen those properties for a couple of reasons. The majority of our loyal customers migrated to our other facilities, and we captured about 90 percent of that overall play. So these properties, to some degree, became duplicative. ”
Convert to homeless shelters?
Kreeger said the company believes that an alternative use for that land would benefit the community by diversifying the overall use of the land. However, no serious discussion has been had with homeless advocates, who see the properties as ideal for large-scale homeless services campuses and shelters, similar to what has been discussed in Los Angeles for the historic Sears building in Boyle Heights, a gang and crime-infested, hardscrabble area just east of downtown.
No business or non-profit agency has publicly stepped up offering to buy the properties from Station Casinos. But experts have said the existing structures could be converted to use for helping the homeless at much less expense than building such facilities from the ground up. Jonathan McGee, a local homeless advocate, opined that, “The hotels can be repurposed for shelters. The casinos themselves would be great for housing offices, medical facilities, and providers of mental health and drug rehabilitation services to the homeless.”
Clark County is struggling with a burgeoning homeless problem, as are most good-weather parts of the country. It is estimated that there are nearly ten thousand homeless people in Clark County at any given time. Many congregate on the streets in dangerous slum areas just east of Texas Station and Fiesta Rancho. The entire neighborhood housing the two casinos has been in decline for decades, making it a natural for homeless and similar public services. Well-kept, fenced campuses may actually improve the appearance of the area, according to some locals.
The Fiesta Henderson property’s location is not far from the run-down areas of Boulder Highway, which has been a magnet for drug addicts and homeless for a long time. However, it would be less suited for large-scale homeless services, as it abuts some middle-class neighborhoods, though with adequate fencing and a good transportation plan, it could work.
A difficult decision
Kreeger went on to say, “These properties have been an important part of our business over many years, so it is not without sadness that we announce these permanent closures,” he said. “We would like to recognize and thank our former “team members” (casino employees) who worked at these properties for making them a place where our guests always felt welcome. We are pleased that approximately one-third of the team members from each of these three properties are already working at another Station Casinos property, and we hope that number will grow. We also want to thank our loyal guests for their support.”
Employees were informed of the closures in an emailed message:
“We are announcing today that we have decided to permanently close our Texas Station, Fiesta Rancho and Fiesta Henderson properties,” Kreeger wrote in his email. “Each of these properties has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. Given the post-reopening success of our open properties -- thanks to your efforts, including the warm welcome you have provided our guests from the closed resorts -- it does not make sense to try to reopen these properties.”
“Station Casinos to demolish 3 closed properties, sell land” , Richard N. Velotta, lvrj.com, July 15, 2022.
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