Casino Opening Helps Revive Historic Southern Nevada District

Posted on: April 1, 2021, 03:16h. 

Last updated on: April 1, 2021, 04:09h.

The historic Water Street District in downtown Henderson got a boost Thursday with the opening of the The Pass Casino at the site of a renovated gaming hall.

The Pass Casino
A new sign towers over The Pass Casino in Henderson, Nev. The renovated casino is part of a revival effort in the city’s historic Water Street District. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The property on Water Street, formerly the Eldorado Casino, opened on July 1, 1962. It was the first casino that gaming pioneer Sam Boyd and his son, Bill, co-owned in the area. Henderson is about 15 miles southeast of downtown Las Vegas.

Boyd Gaming locked the doors under state mandate at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. The company sold the property in December to DeSimone Gaming, which also owns the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino near Boulder City.

Million Dollar Rebound

Owner Joe DeSimone, a 53-year-old Henderson real estate developer, invested $7 million in renovating and rebranding the property, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Under the Boyds, the property was one of the first to cater to locals and employ women dealers. DeSimone said he wants to maintain that legacy while adding a few twists.  

“We’re gonna put our own touches on it, as we have. But hopefully we’ll always be able to look back to the time that the Boyds owned it with our customers and have good memories from that,” he told the newspaper. “But it was in our judgment it was time to put a facelift on it, bring it into the 21st century — and with a bang.”

In addition to more than 350 gaming machines, the casinos will have four blackjack tables, a craps table, and a roulette table. A Circa Resort sportsbook has been installed inside the casino.

An Italian restaurant named Ristorante Italiano was added where a Mexican restaurant once was, and a 1950s-themed diner now is called Emelia’s Cafe. The cafe is named after the owner’s 6-year-old daughter.

No one remembers the ’50s anymore,” DeSimone said, explaining the change.

DeSimone told the newspaper he plans to add a hotel at the property.

Water Street Revival

The Pass is near Lifeguard Arena, the $26 million practice facility for the American Hockey League’s Henderson Silver Knights. The facility, which opened in November, is another addition to the Water Street District revival. 

Henderson Mayor Debra March called the practice facility a “game-changer for Water Street.”

Though the Silver Knights practice in Henderson, the team plays its home games about 17 miles to the northwest in the Orleans Arena. The arena is at the Orleans Hotel and Casino, just west of the Las Vegas Strip.

The Orleans is near T-Mobile Arena, home of the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights. T-Mobile Arena is on the Strip near Park MGM.

The Henderson team is the Golden Knight’s AHL affiliate. Players hoping to make an NHL team are on the rosters of the 31 developmental AHL teams spread across Canada and the US.

Other Vegas Casino Openings

The opening of The Pass this week comes as other new or renovated hotel casinos are opening across the Las Vegas Valley. They give hope to tourism officials that a COVID-19 economic rebound is underway.

Late last year, Circa Resort opened as an adults-only hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas’ Glitter Gulch. 

South of downtown, Resorts World Las Vegas is set to open this summer on the west side of the Strip where the Stardust Casino once stood.

Late last month, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas opened just east of the Strip on Paradise Road. Virgin is a renovated and rebranded resort that had been the Hard Rock hotel-casino.