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Top 10 casino openings, expansions and renovations

15 January 2018

For as long as the gambling industry continues to construct, rearrange, improve and occasionally demolish buildings, we'll continue bring you the latest news. This edition features a swath of land changing owners, another swath finding its designated purpose in life, and of course, many openings. (And, we regret to say, one unfortunate closing.)

10. Oneida Nation reveals grand opening date of Point Place Casino
On 1 March, Point Place Casino in Bridgeport, New York, will throw open its doors to the public after just 10 months of construction. The 65,000-square-foot casino will boast 500 popular slot machines and 20 table games, as well as the requisite restaurants and bars, employing a total of 200 people. Point Place will operate 24/7, targeting the local gaming audience with its rustic charm and relaxing ambience.

More details on the grand opening will be announced shortly, so stay tuned.

9. LVCVA gathers for Convention Center groundbreaking
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority congregated earlier in the month to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Las Vegas Convention Center District Phase Two Expansion – a worthy investment, since Las Vegas is one of the most popular destinations for business meetings and convention center space is precious. (Last year, Vegas hosted about 22,000 meetings, conventions and trade shows.)

The lobby of Point Place Casino.

The lobby of Point Place Casino. (photo by Point Place Casino)

The $860 million project will add 1.4 million square feet to the existing convention center, including a few hundred thousand square feet for exhibit space. This phase of construction is slated for completion in 2021.

8. Construction on Desert Diamond West Valley Casino begins
After an eight-year wait, the Tohono O'odham Gaming Enterprise finally broke ground in mid-December for the Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment - West Valley casino, which when finished will boast a 75,000-square-foot casino floor with Class III slot machines, poker and blackjack tables and live bingo. Compared to the time between the project's announcement and commencement, actual build time will be quite speedy – just 24 months.

We can just imagine the feelings of triumph, as this $400 million project has endured more than a decade of legal battles, court rulings, disgruntled locals and other roadblocks. And, until now, the tribe has been making do with a 40,000-square-foot temporary casino near Glendale's Westgate Entertainment District.

7. Spokane Tribe announces opening
The Spokane Tribe Casino officially opened last week at 7 p.m., launching $165,000 in giveaways and debuting its own series of daily specials and promotions.

As the casino approval process took quite some time – more than 12 years! – we're glad they could finally make it happen. Current amenities include restaurants and bars. The Spokane Tribal leaders plan to develop the 145-acre site more in the future, eventually adding retail and commercial space, a resort hotel and an entertainment center.

6. Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino shuts down gaming operations
True, this is the total opposite of an opening, but it's no less newsworthy: After just over a year, the Las Vegas property has ceased operation of its casino and casino restaurant offerings, citing financial difficulties.

It was said in a press release that operations should resume within six months, while the hotel, gift shop and Cha Garden restaurant will remain open. The casino's December 2016 opening seemed auspicious, with Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino introducing itself as the first property in Vegas to offer authentic Asian gaming and dining. A few months down the line, changes to gaming offerings were announced, shortly followed by a staff shrinkage. And now: This unfortunate news.

Here's to hoping things take a positive turn.

5. New buffet concept now open at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas
When we read the words "buffet concept" we were, to put it simply, intrigued, as the descriptor "concept" makes everything seem a touch more forward-thinking and modern. And A.Y.C.E. does seem to be more than your average buffet.

Part of an almost $500 million revitalization plan at The Palms Casino Resort, this buffet focuses on technique, employing wood-burning grills, rotisseries, smokers and a mind-bogglingly huge hearth oven. The Palms calls this a "chef-driven experience." (But aren't all restaurants chef-driven? Then again, we're a casino news site, not a culinary expert, so what do we know?)

Seven food stations cater to the needs of even the pickiest of eaters, offering fresh greens, baked items, international fare, wok-style dishes, smoked goods, health food (with a delicious twist, we promise!) and, of course, the requisite dessert island.

There's also an appreciable selection of alcohol. So, yeah, we're in.

4. Foxwoods expands arena-style gaming
The Rainmaker Stadium over at Foxwoods Resort Casino houses 30 play terminals that feature multi-gaming functionality, allowing players to switch between various games with just the push of a button. Three live dealers, projected onto enormous HD screens, offer blackjack and mini-baccarat. To seal the deal, each station comes with charging stations and beverages holders.

High demand means that Foxwoods plans to introduce an additional 24 play terminals this year.

Local leaders gathered to celebrate the Convention Center groundbreaking.

Local leaders gathered to celebrate the Convention Center groundbreaking. (photo by LVCVA)

3. Viejas Casino to open luxury tower
Viejas Casino & Resort, a AAA Four Diamond-rated destination, has announced that it plans to open a new luxury tower in February. Willows Hotel & Spa is billed as an adults-only retreat, featuring a saltwater pool, a spa, a salon and a fitness center, as well as three restaurants. One particularly neat feature is the Specialized Stay Package, where guests can check in and out at their leisure.

If that wasn't incentive enough, each suite comes equipped with an Alexa personal assistant, which can gather information, act as an alarm clock and offer myriad other high-tech functions. And let's talk about the vitamin C-infused showers – we're almost curious enough about that alone to book a stay.

2. Sante Fe Downs property to undergo revitalization
The Pueblo of Pojoaque Development Corporation is currently seeking bids for a plan to transform more than 300 acres of land into an economic asset. Santa Fe Downs was originally opened as a horse race track in 1971 until its closure in 1997, and since then the land has been used for public events.

The Pueblo don't plan to use the 323 acres for horse racing, but for "the benefit of the Pueblo and the surrounding community," said Christine Gabaldon, director of marketing at the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino. Since the planning is in its infancy, it may be a while before we see what shape this new destination takes.

1. Wynn to purchase land across from Wynn Las Vegas
Wynn Resorts reached an agreement in December to buy up about 38 acres of land on The Strip, across from Wynn Las Vegas, for a total of $336 million. Combined with an additional four acres of land connected to the site, this purchase constitutes an area of contiguous real estate totaling about 280 acres.

Arguably, this is some of the most valuable property in Las Vegas, as land is hard to come by on the Strip these days.

We're not yet sure what the land will be used for – "future development" was mentioned in the release, and no more than that – but any new fixtures built on these 280 acres could draw crowds to the north part of the Strip.
Abby Messick

Abby served as an associate editor for the Casino City editorial team for three years, between 2015 and 2018.
Abby Messick
Abby served as an associate editor for the Casino City editorial team for three years, between 2015 and 2018.