Caesars Slashes 471 Positions From Harrah’s Reno Sale, Peppermill Cuts Jobs, Too

Posted on: June 18, 2020, 10:44h. 

Last updated on: June 18, 2020, 11:44h.

Caesars Entertainment has announced that all 471 job positions at its closed Harrah’s Reno Hotel and Casino will be permanently eliminated.

Harrah's Reno Caesars Peppermint
The last slot machine has spun at Harrah’s Reno, as Caesars has sold the resort and laid off the property’s workforce. (Image: Andy Barron/Reno Gazette-Journal)

VICI Properties, the real estate and investment trust that owns the physical assets of numerous Caesars casinos, announced it was selling Harrah’s Reno in January for $50 million. The buyer is CAI Investments, a Las Vegas-based real estate development group that plans to turn the property into a mixed-use project called Reno City Center.

With the casino floor being removed and the 930-room hotel converted into residential housing units, Caesars says the team members who worked at the downtown resort will be permanently let go. Brad Belhouse, regional president of Caesars Entertainment, notified employees this week.

Caesars and VICI decided to sell Harrah’s Reno in part of the casino operator’s $17.3 billion acquisition by Eldorado Resorts. Eldorado already owns and operates three casinos in Reno: Eldorado Resort, Silver Legacy, and Circus Circus.

At the time of the sale to CAI, Caesars Entertainment President Tony Rodio said Harrah’s Reno workers would be given priority consideration for openings at other Caesars properties in Nevada. That was, of course, before the coronavirus struck and resulted in Nevada casinos shuttering for more than two months. Many reopened this month, but are operating in limited capacities with reduced workforces.

Harrah’s Reno shuttered operations March 17 on Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) orders. Though Nevada casinos were allowed to begin reopening on June 4, Caesars announced earlier this month that Harrah’s Reno would remain permanently closed.

Reno Job Cuts

Workers at Harrah’s Reno weren’t the only ones this week to learn that their furloughs because of the coronavirus have transitioned into terminations.

Officials at the Peppermill Resort Hotel said 103 workers have been notified they will no longer have employment with the casino property effective August 1. The Peppermill reopened at 9 a.m. on June 4.

The long closure, however, resulted in reduced revenue and the company’s decision to trim its overhead by way of reduced staff.

When we originally provided notice of furloughs effective March 17, 2020, we did not foresee the furloughs could last beyond six months or become permanent,” said Peppermill General Manager Billy Paganetti. “Frankly, no one could have foreseen how the COVID-19 crisis played out.”

The Peppermill executive said though the casino resort is back open, there remains much uncertainty surrounding the gaming industry. “Because of this, we have made the difficult decision to permanently lay off employees,” he explained.

End of Era

Harrah’s Reno has been a staple of the downtown “Biggest Little City in the World” for more than five decades. Its origins trace back to William F. Harrah’s bingo parlors, located between Virginia and Center streets in the late 1930s.

The original hotel tower, designed by iconic casino architect Martin Stern Jr., opened in 1969. The casino hosted countless A-list celebrity performers, including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Wayne Newton, and Tony Bennett.

Though Harrah’s Reno underwent some renovations over the years, customers have expressed disappointment with the resort. On TripAdvisor, Harrah’s Reno is rated 3.5/5 stars on more than 6,700 reviews.

“Very outdated facility and has an odor,” read one verified review posted in March 2020. Another from the same month: “Smells like cigarettes on nonsmoking floor.”

By comparison, Peppermill, Eldorado, Grand Sierra, and Atlantis – all in Reno – are each rated at 4.5/5 stars.