Silver Legacy Resort and Casino is the largest property in downtown Reno now in bankruptcy court

Just a Matter of Time

By James Turnage:

The Silver Legacy Resort and Casino is the largest property in downtown Reno. It opened in 1995 at a cost of 350 million dollars. Its hotel is 35 stories high with 1700 rooms. Many locals believe as I do that it was responsible for beginning the end of downtown Reno. The venture was financed by the El Dorado and Circus Circus. The Reno City Counsel, who never deny the owners of the El Dorado anything they might ask, allowed a skyway between the three casinos, the Legacy located in the middle. Because of the size of the combined three properties, this virtually took all the foot traffic off of Virginia Street, crippling or eliminating small casinos, and severely damaging the larger ones.

The Legacy is now in bankruptcy court. The property is 142.8 million dollars in debt. They have been under bankruptcy protection for five months. An agreement has been reached by the Legacy and its creditors. In addition to terms allowing the Legacy to pay down the debt, they will also receive an addition 70 million dollars in loans to help them re-establish the casino as a profitable property. The current management will remain as they are now, with no major changes in upper level personnel. Monday the U.S. Bankruptcy Court is expected to grant approval to the agreement.

I worked for the Legacy for 5 ½ years. I believe this is a case of throwing good money after bad. With the success of Atlantis and the Peppermill in south Reno, casino business downtown has been in steady decline. It began in 1996 and does not appear to be slowing down. Even the once most profitable casino in the world, per capita, the Club Cal Neva has witnessed their business lose customer base every year.

The central reason I left the Legacy was because management was leading the property into collapse. It’s easy to blame the housing crash in 2008 for every financial problem that exists within our state. I worked in Reno and Sparks casinos for 20 years. Most of the times I changed jobs was because of poor management decisions.

An important, and secondary reason I left the industry in 2006 was how unpleasant it had become to work in the business. There was a growing unhappiness in the property. Management and employees demonstrated animosity towards each other, and that animosity was spawning problems between employees. Friends of mine who worked in other casinos in the area felt the same situation growing in the properties where they were employed.

The only constant within the casinos where I was employed was that from day one until I left 20 years later, if business was bad, it was the fault of those of us who worked on the casino floor. If business was good it was the result of wise decisions made by upper management.

2 Responses to "Silver Legacy Resort and Casino is the largest property in downtown Reno now in bankruptcy court"

  1. Al Moe   October 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Reno’s gaming income has been steady or in decline since the 1980’s and I can’t see the difference between a skywalk and a sidewalk – the opening of the Legacy was no different than the opening of any other property since the 1940’s. New properties are nicer, attract new business, and cannibalize players from older ones.
    As you mentioned, the Atlantis and the Peppermill have each continued to grow, because they have room to expand. If you want to blame someone, blame the casino owners and the city council of the 1950’s who refused to allow any new casinos beyond their “red iine” of downtown. This kept Reno from transforming itself the way Las Vegas did in the 1950’s and 1960’s.


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