Gaming Commission Permits Las Vegas Pop-up Casino, But Issues Warning

Posted on: May 19, 2023, 01:31h. 

Last updated on: May 22, 2023, 12:25h.

As hoped, Marriott International will get to open a pop-up casino on the site of the former nightclub The Beach. Its temporary casino will open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23.

The Beach
The Beach, shown shortly before its 2006 closure. Marriott International will soon open a pop-up casino at the spot. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

In addition to its permission, the Nevada Gaming Commission also notified the hotel company at its meeting this week.

One of the most bizarre facets of Las Vegas casino culture, pop-up casinos are the result of county regulations that require gaming on the sites of defunct casinos for eight hours every 18 months if the site owners want to keep their grandfathered, unrestricted gaming licenses. Nevada stopped issuing such licenses in the 1990s, so they’re highly coveted.

As is typically the case, Marriott’s pop-up will consist of 16 slot machines, the minimum necessary, in a tent open to the public on the site.

Plot Thickens

On Thursday, the Gaming Commission also warned Marriott’s representative, attorney Dennis Neilander, that preserving a gaming license can’t continue indefinitely, and that Marriott needs to show movement toward a future plan, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

This will be the 10th time in 17 years that a pop-up is opening on the empty lot at 365 Convention Center Drive near Paradise Road.

Marriott, which operates five hotels on 16 acres close to the lot, intends to consolidate them into a larger resort that possibly features gaming. Neilander told the Commission that the combination of the pandemic shutdown and a sluggish economy has delayed Marriott’s plans, and that a nondisclosure agreement the company signed with potential developers prohibits it from disclosing any specific plan or time lines.

According to the R-J report, Gaming Commissioner Rosa Solis-Rainey repeated her organization’s warning that something needs to be done with the site other than hosting pop-ups indefinitely. However, the approval was unanimous.

A possible sticking point to Marriott’s plans is the only lot the company doesn’t own in the immediate area — the one on which Piero’s Italian Cuisine sits. Piero’s opened in 1987 on the site, which has historical significance as the former Villa d’Este, a favorite haunt of the Rat Pack and Elvis Presley since 1962. Before that, the structure, built in 1960, was known as Coach & Four and owned by mob boss Sam Giancana.

Before it was The Beach, the building at 365 Convention Center Drive first opened to the public as the race book Sport of Kings. (Image: YouTube)

Fore Site

The site approved for the pop-up was first developed in 1979 for a New Orleans-themed casino called the Deville. Though the structure had been built, its owner, Frank Carroll, never managed to get its casino license approved for the property, so he sold it to a pharmaceutical manufacturer, Irving Brand, who experienced the same problem.

More bad luck haunted its next owners, two British bookmaker brothers who opened a race book in the building in 1992. Sport of Kings was forced to close seven months later due to undercapitalization.

The Beach opened in 1994 with a novel gimmick — the first man-made beach in Vegas, featuring imported sand. As more impressive beaches debuted, such as Mandalay Bay’s in 1999, excitement about the off-Strip nightclub declined. It closed in 2006.