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Boyd Gaming To Keep Henderson’s Eldorado Casino Shuttered Indefinitely

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • Boyd Gaming is the latest Nevada gaming company to reduce their gaming and hotel capacity in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Boyd Gaming will keep the Eldorado Casino in Henderson, Nevada closed indefinitely.
  • The Eldorado is one of three Boyd properties in Southern Nevada that remain closed.

With sagging demand for gaming and lodging in Southern Nevada casino operators are taking steps to reduce capacity. Station Casinos has no plans to reopen the Palms, Texas Station, Fiesta Station and Fiesta Rancho. Penn National is having second thoughts about reopening the Tropicana on September 1 even as the property is on the market to be sold. MGM Resorts is reopening the Mirage on August 27 though the Park MGM remains closed without a reopening date. Rumors that MGM is considering imploding the Mirage are, for now at least, unfounded.

Boyd Gaming has diversified their property portfolio well beyond Nevada but they’re not immune to feeling the impact of the struggling Las Vegas tourist economy. Earlier today, the Henderson City Council approved a request to make the gaming and liquor licenses for the Eldorado Casino on Water Street nonoperational. This obviously means that the property will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Michelle Rasmusson, vice president of regulatory compliance for Boyd Gaming, wrote a letter requesting nonoperational status to Henderson City Manager Richard Derrick on July 15. A spokesman for Boyd gave a ‘no comment’ to the Las Vegas Review Journal and referenced the company’s July 28 earnings call.

In the Boyd Gaming Q2 earnings call CEO Keith Smith explained where things stand with regard to the Las Vegas area properties that remain closed:

“…there are no current plans with respect to reopening those. One of them is in downtown Las Vegas, which is you heard us talk about is right now kind of the most challenged segment for us, just given restrictions in Hawaii and lower tourism overall in Las Vegas. The other two are smaller properties and it’s a demand based calculation on our part. So, once the demand starts to pick up, both downtown as well as around the two smaller properties, that’s when you’d see us reopen those. We don’t have any dates right now.”

Earlier in the call, Smith spoke of the challenges specifically in the Downtown Las Vegas market but also generally in the COVID-19 pandemic era:

“In Downtown Las Vegas, business model that has sustained us for over 40 years is presenting a temporary challenge. With the ongoing pandemic, many of our Hawaiian customers are hesitant to fly, particularly with a mandatory quarantine required upon their return. Combined with reductions in overall tourism to Las Vegas, we are seeing lower traffic counts throughout the Downtown market. As a result, our Downtown business is not performing at the same level as our other two segments right now.”

The Eldorado Casino dates back to 1961 when it originally opened as the ‘Wheel Casino’. The Wheel struggled from the beginning and closed in 1962. At that point, Paul Perry bought it and was represented in the deal by an attorney named Bill Boyd who took a stake in the property. Bill Boyd brought in some other investors including his dad, Las Vegas casino legend Sam Boyd. It was reopened as the Eldorado Casino on July 1, 1962. The property doubled in size in 1965 via the acquisition of the adjacent Royal Club. The Boyd family took over full ownership in 1966. The property underwent a $1.5 million renovation in 1977 with the casino floor expanded to 30,000 square feet.

The property has always been a favorite of mine and is something of a ‘hidden gem’ among Southern Nevada gaming properties. It was acquired by the Boyd Gaming corporate entity in 1993. Renovations in 1997 and 2007 took away some of the classic charm of the property but it remains a refreshing alternative to the mega resorts found on The Strip. It was closed as part of the gaming industry shutdown ordered by Nevada governor Steve Siolak on March 17. The ‘nonoperational’ status of the property will extend through June 4, 2021 though that’s not an indication that it will reopen by that date.

Along with the Eldorado, the other two Boyd Gaming properties in Southern Nevada that remain closed are the Eastside Cannery on Boulder Highway and the Main Street Station downtown. Main Street Station will likely reopen at some point after demand strengthens in the downtown area. The fate of the Eastside Cannery is less certain. In the current market the Boulder Strip area is definitely overbuilt and dominated by Sam’s Town and the Boulder Station along with Arizona Charlies Boulder. A major draw of the Eastside Cannery has traditionally been a well regarded buffet but that’s obviously a non-starter at this time. Eastside Cannery is now in a similar position to Stations Casino owned Texas Station and Fiesta Rancho–second tier properties located in overbuilt areas.

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