Circa Casino’s Opening Expected to Spark Revival in Las Vegas’ Glitter Gulch

Posted on: October 27, 2020, 12:58h. 

Last updated on: October 27, 2020, 02:58h.

Circa Resort and Casino’s grand opening early Wednesday signals a transformation of historic Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

Circa Resort and Casino
Circa Resort and Casino, seen here, is expected to attract tourists to downtown Las Vegas after its Oct. 28 grand opening. It was built at the site of the former Las Vegas Club. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The sleek, 35-story resort is the first hotel-casino built from the ground up in downtown Las Vegas in 40 years. It is at the northwestern end of the Fremont Street Experience, a pedestrian mall covered by a lighted canopy. This area is known as Glitter Gulch.

Nehme E. Abouzeid, president of consulting firm LaunchVegas, said Circa’s opening shows the city is “alive and well and reinvesting.”

I hope people understand the importance and meaning of this property opening,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The grand opening is being broadcast live on the Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN) website. The free broadcast begins Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 10 pm ET. Doors open just after midnight.

From the moment the property opens, Circa will an adults-only resort. No one under 21 will be allowed on the main property, including the hotel or swimming pools. Barry’s Prime Downtown, a steakhouse in the basement, is the only place people under 21 will be allowed.

Downtown casino operators are hoping Circa can help spur a revival in that area. Tourism has been down since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Keith Smith, president and CEO of Boyd Gaming, told the Review-Journal one of its downtown properties, Main Street Station, won’t reopen until next year. Revenue from the company’s downtown properties fell 71 percent from last year, he told the newspaper. That drop is because of travel restrictions in Hawaii and a decline in Las Vegas visitation, he said.

Welcome Back Vegas Vickie

Those attending the opening early Wednesday will get a first look at Circa’s features, including what is billed as the world’s largest sportsbook.

Visitors also will be able to see a restored Vegas Vickie neon sign. The brightly lit cowgirl towered over Fremont Street for decades. Circa owner Derek Stevens restored Vegas Vickie for display inside the new hotel-casino.

Circa was built in one of the most historic parts of Las Vegas. It is across Main Street from the Plaza hotel-casino, where the now-demolished passenger train station once stood.

Among the famous properties on the street are Binion’s, once run by former Texas outlaw Benny Binion, and the El Cortez. In the mid-1940s, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and other mobsters briefly owned the El Cortez.

Las Vegas Grand Openings

In Las Vegas, hotel-casino grand openings sometimes are viewed as trend-setting. When casino mogul Steve Wynn opened the Mirage hotel-casino on the Strip in November 1989, it helped spark a boom in themed megaresorts.

Decades earlier, in late 1946, Siegel oversaw the opening of the Flamingo hotel-casino on the Strip. It was seen as an upgrade in comparison to other properties in the area. The Flamingo’s original buildings have been demolished, but the resort is at the same location, with newer hotel towers.

Similar fanfare accompanied the opening of other properties on the Strip. A new megaresort on the Strip, the $4.3-billion Resorts World Las Vegas, is slated to open next summer.

Meanwhile, Circa is not the only resort hoping to carve out a niche in the adults-only market. The Cromwell, a boutique hotel next door to the Flamingo, has shifted its marketing strategy and is reopening Thursday as an adult-only property. It has been closed since the mandated COVID-19 shut down in March.