Caesars Completes $41.5 Million Sale of Original Harrahs Casino, 82-Year-Old Harrahs Reno

Posted on: October 2, 2020, 08:38h. 

Last updated on: October 2, 2020, 10:09h.

Caesars Entertainment has completed the sale of Harrah’s Reno. The original Harrah’s casino was founded in 1938 by William “Bill” Fisk Harrah.

Harrahs Reno
Harrah’s Reno was opened by Bill Harrah as Harrah’s Club Bingo in 1932. It will be demolished to make way for residential, retail, and office space. (Image: Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

After 82 years, the property will cease to be a casino. The buyer, Las Vegas developer Chris Beavor, founder of CAI investments, plans to turn it into a multiuse facility to be known as Reno City Center.

Beavor paid $41.5 million for Harrah’s Reno, which will be split 75-25 between Caesars and its spin-off real-estate investment trust (REIT), VICI Properties, in the latter’s favor.

Sold to Ease Eldorado Deal

The deal was first agreed in January, but the transaction was delayed because of the coronavirus. Caesars was compelled to sell to grease the skids on its $17.3 billion merger with Eldorado Resorts.

Reno-based Eldorado already owned three properties in the downtown area, and the addition of one more would likely have fallen foul of antitrust regulators.

Harrah’s Reno had hoped to reopen over the summer before the completion of the deal. But Caesars announced in June it would permanently lay off the property’s 471 employees.

Beavor has said the Reno City Center will be a “live-work-play” destination that aims to ease the affordable housing shortage in Nevada’s second gambling town.

Residential space will be mingled with 150,000 square feet of workspace, 8,500 square feet of retail, restaurants, a grocery store, a gym, and a “park-like setting.”

Industry Pioneer

Harrah, who was once married to country singer Bobbie Gentry, opened the casino as Harrah’s Club Bingo. The bingo and gambling hall was gradually expanded over the years while growing the empire into Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas.

The Reno property was known for its live entertainment, with showbiz legends like Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis Jr. headlining the showroom.

In 1973, Harrah’s was the first casino company to float on the New York Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, Bill Harrah was instrumental in establishing the Nevada Gaming Control Board and helped strengthen the Nevada Gaming Commission in an effort to rid the industry of corruption and Mob-influence.

He died in 1978 and was one of the original inductees into the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame.

Harrah’s saw further expansion in the regional casino market under the subsequent ownership of Holiday Inn and then Promus Companies. After becoming Harrah’s Entertainment, it acquired Caesars in a $9 billion deal, and five years later changed its name to Caesars Entertainment.