In 1931, Nevada’s state legislature legalized gambling. Reno became the gaming capital of the world overnight. This distinction was held for decades. For over eighty years, Reno’s wherewithal has been in casinos. Yet, change is a constant. According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, February marks the eighth month in the previous 12-month period of falling year-over-year gaming revenues in Washoe County. Meanwhile, Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe are still catching fish; their gaming revenues are up. If Reno wants to eat, we’ll have to change our bait or fish in a new pond.
The casino and gaming industry is a pillar of Reno’s brand. The tax revenue has built our infrastructure. Reno’s streets were paved with slot machine pulls. Some paramount moments in Reno’s gaming history include the Harold’s Club, the Mapes, and the Nevada Club. Like baseball to America, gaming is Reno’s pastime.
Reno is competing with reservation casinos including the Thunder Valley Casino, Red Hawk Casino, and by November the $800 million, 200-room Graton Resort and Casino. These resorts are more convenient for Sacramentans and San Franciscans, Reno’s primary visitor base.
How does the Reno casino adjust? Perhaps they open up more street level entrances. More activity on the street level creates a more open environment. After all, entertainment is everything to the consumer. Upgrade the attraction. When you look out the windows of a downtown casino room, your view is composed of air conditioner units and dilapidated roofs. If there isn’t a view, create one. Disrupt the ordinary and bring in artists and give them creative freedom.
NOTE: The thoughts and opinions expressed by Paul Klein in this blog are personal and not that of the City of Reno.