The Pass casino in Henderson opened to the public Thursday evening.
The opening marks the latest chapter in the history of the Water Street property, formerly known as Eldorado Casino. That casino, then owned by Boyd Gaming Corp., closed last March. Now, a year later, a sale, a rebrand and $7 million in renovations later, it is reopening as The Pass.
The Pass’ new ownership group, DeSimone Gaming, overhauled the previously slots-only casino, offering new restaurants, a new sportsbook, 80 percent new gaming machines, table games, an event space and two bars.
All of the changes have taken place since Boyd struck a deal in December to sell the Eldorado to DeSimone Gaming. The renovated property has a modernized look, though DeSimone expects The Pass to maintain a neighborhood feel and its customer base to largely comprise the same locals who frequented Eldorado.
“IT’S OPEN FOLKS”: We are on Water Street in the @cityofhenderson where doors are now open at the brand new @PassCasino. Customers at the neighboring Rainbow Casino even came across the street to see the opening. #RJNow #ThePassCasino #Henderson pic.twitter.com/nmCVGAhuM0
— James Schaeffer (@jamesmschaeffer) April 2, 2021
“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,” owner Joe DeSimone said during an interview Monday. “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.”
More changes are on the horizon, too, he said. DeSimone has plans to bring a hotel to the property within a year-and-a-half.
DeSimone said he was expecting a certain level of energy at the opening, and he feels like he got it.
He admitted to some nerves about an hour before the ribbon-cutting ceremony. DeSimone Gaming’s other property, Railroad Pass, was still up and running when DeSimone Gaming took over operations; He ddn’t have to start over like he did at The Pass, he said.
“I haven’t slept in four or five nights,” DeSimone said.
He credited his team for putting the work into the property ahead of its opening. The one thing he wasn’t expecting, he joked, was his 6-year-old daughter to behave herself. Emelia, the inspiration for the property’s cafe, later sat in a booth while Henderson officials thanked her father for opening the casino and bringing jobs to Water Street.
A crowd of a couple hundred people attended the VIP party ahead of its 7 p.m. opening. Among the attendees were Circa CEO Derek Stevens; Nevada Sen. Carrie Buck; Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson, the former Henderson mayor; Henderson City Councilwoman Michelle Romero; and Henderson Mayor Debra March.
The property opened as the Wheel Casino in 1961, and was sold to Paul Perry, Joe Crowley and members of the Boyd family in 1962. They reopened it that year as the Eldorado. The Boyds took full ownership in 1966 and Boyd Gaming held the property until last year.
Eldorado closed its doors just over a year ago in accordance with the governor’s closure order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Boyd kept Eldorado’s doors closed even as it opened other properties in the valley beginning June 4. Henderson City Council in August approved Boyd’s request to consider Eldorado’s gaming and liquor licenses nonoperational.
Boyd sold Eldorado to DeSimone Gaming a few months later for an undisclosed price.
The Pass shares branding with DeSimone Gaming’s other property, Railroad Pass at U.S. Highway 93 and Interstate 11. The pair feature the same loyalty rewards program and a shuttle service that takes customers between the two properties.
Live gaming has arrived at The Pass casino floor via four blackjack tables, a roulette table and a craps table. The former bingo room is now The Venue, a group space for banquets, events and small conventions. It features booths, sconces, a stage and a new ceiling.
The Pass is opening with two bars: the Pass Bar and Silver Bar.
The new Circa Sports sportsbook will begin taking bets upon regulatory approval in the coming weeks. It’s the second satellite location for Derek Stevens’ sportsbetting company.
Contact Mike Shoro at email@example.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.