The Bear Growls: Reno-area casino death watch list revisited; two of the eight already met the prediction

Fitzgerald's Casino in Reno

 On June 13, 2008,  I posted:

 It appears that the current business plan for some Reno casinos is for present ownership to loot as much from them as quickly as they can, then let them go under. As a staunch Reno supporter for a decade, and as one who makes at least fifteen trips a year to Reno, I am truly sorry to see these casinos rotting from within and beginning their death spirals.

Reno casino failures within the last few years:

Golden Phoenix
Baldini’s (downgraded from a casino to a slot house)

I predict none of the following will survive another five years under their present ownership and incompetent management, if they survive at all. The current Reno-area Casino Death Watch List:

Sands Regency
Silver Club
Rail City
Grand Sierra (though it has recently mounted a comeback, and has the best chance of survival)

A “bonus” — the South Tahoe Casino Death Watch List:



Even I am surprised that two of the eight took less than four months for my prediction to come true.  Fitzgeralds, which in retrospect I believe the new ownership planned all along to plunder and close, recently announced that it is closing for good.  The new ownership and management seemed to do everything possible to antagonize and chase away the few customers the place had.  They “succeeded,” and now 475 people will be out of work in the dead of winter in Reno.  One of the ownership group that apparently purchased it under the false pretense of trying to make it a success as a casino is the son of Reno’s mayor.  What a low-class scumbag!  I hope the mayor is ashamed, but I somehow doubt it.

Grand Sierra is the other one that is packing it in under present ownership.   As noted above, I thought Grand Sierra had the best chance to survive.  It is not being closed, but we’ll have to keep watching it.

Mayor Bob Cashell said he met with JPMorgan executives Friday and left feeling positive about the future of the property.  “From my understanding, they are just replacing the current management,” Cashell said. 

This is good news, if accurate. Hopefully the new ownership will get rid of the twin failures, casino manager Navegante Group and sportsbook failure Lucky’s Race and Sports Book.  Lucky’s  is not even in the same league with the former independent book that was at Grand Sierra.  Apparently undercapitalized and definitely paranoid, Lucky’s is an embarrassment.  I hope the new ownership can get rid of Lucky’s quickly and restore respectability to the sportsbook operation.

Sad to say, two down, six to go.   I think Siena will be next, not surviving the winter.



  1. The gambling public may view a casino as a casino, but executives often view it simply as an asset. The gambling license and goodwill are considered but not always the primary factor.

    Often management can play with the real estate more profitably than with the gaming license. A short term profit in the casino can yield bonuses to the executives after which the short-sighted policies bring losses to new owners or the new stock buyers.

    Gamblers might be emotional about a casino, its employees and clientele but an asset manager will care only about dollars and only about the short term. Gamblers may view a property as a casino but others may view it as a good place for a parking structure or casino-less condominium-hotel.

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