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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Acquisition of Hacienda gets gaming regulators' preliminary OK

5 December 2013

Nevada Restaurant Services, Inc., which operates more than 80 Dotty’s taverns statewide, was given preliminary approval Wednesday by the Gaming Control Board to acquire the Hacienda near Boulder City.

The 289-room hotel-casino overlooking Lake Mead will be renamed the Hoover Dam Lodge and will close for a week over Christmas once the sale is finalized.

The Nevada Gaming Commission will make a final recommendation on the matter on Dec. 19.

The name change reflects the casino’s proximity to Hoover Dam. The Hacienda is 2½ miles outside of Boulder City on U.S. Highway 93. Boulder City prohibits gaming within its city limits.

Nevada Restaurant Services Chief Executive Officer Craig Estey told the control board he was contacted by the Hacienda’s owners earlier this year about buying the resort. A sales price was not revealed.

Estey said the property would eventually be remodeled “over a long-term proposal” to take advantage of the views of Lake Mead, including adding a second hotel tower. The property’s 32 acres is divided by Highway 93. Estey said 6 million cars a year pass the Hacienda.

The Hacienda includes 19,000 square-feet of gaming space, meeting facilities, a gift shop and movie theaters. William Hill operates the sports book.

Estey said the plan is to close the Hacienda Dec. 22 to begin installing new slot machines and a casino management/player rewards system used by the Dotty’s taverns.

The casino will reopen on Dec. 28 with 150 slot machines.

The Hacienda’s 250 employees received 60-day plant closing notices under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act in October from the property’s soon-to-be-former owners. Nevada Restaurant Services acquired the hotel-casino, but not the corporation, which had employed the workers and is going out of business.

Hacienda employees had to reapply for their jobs or apply for another job within the company. Nevada Restaurant Chief Operating Officer Michel Eide said 150 former Hacienda workers were offered positions at the resort following several job fairs.

The Hoover Dam Lodge will offer restaurants, bars and slot machines, along with updated hotel rooms. Eide said live table games would be replaced by electronic versions of blackjack, craps and roulette. The plan is to place a Dotty’s-style casino inside the property, along with a sports bar and a third gaming concept.

The Hacienda was built on the site of the Gold Strike Casino, which was destroyed by a fire in 1998. The renamed hotel-casino opened 17 months later. The property is on an 11-acre site. The sale also includes 21 acres across the highway.

Estey created the Dotty’s business model in Oregon and brought the concept to Nevada in 1995.

However, the business came under fire from rival tavern operators and the Nevada Resort Association in late 2010. Foes said the operations were nothing more than a glorified slot machine parlor, offering snack food and minimal alcohol while focusing solely on gaming.

In 2011, the Nevada Gaming Commission amended regulations governing taverns, requiring Dotty’s and similar small businesses with gaming to have a nine-seat bar, 2,000 square feet of public space and a kitchen operating at least half the time the business is open.

In addition to the tavern business, Dotty’s is the slot machine route operator for gaming areas inside Nevada-based Food 4 Less and Kmart stores.
Acquisition of Hacienda gets gaming regulators' preliminary OK is republished from