A gaming project 14 years in the making has broken ground, and the project will bring the first new casino facility in nearly three decades to Nevada’s Reno-Sparks area.
Olympia Gaming, headquartered in Las Vegas, broke ground on Wednesday to begin construction on the Legends Bay Casino, an 80,000-square-foot structure in Sparks that will feature slot machines, table games, a sportsbook, and bar and dining options.
DeCourcy Graham, chief operating officer of Olympia Gaming, told Reno’s KOLO-TV that Legends Bay will be the region’s first casino in 26 years to be built from the ground up.
The casino will become part of The Outlets at Legends, a shopping and entertainment district off of Interstate 80. The entire complex, which in 2018 added two hotels, will eventually comprise 1 million square feet on its 13.5-acre site. Olympia also owns Casino Fandango in Carson City, Nevada.
Legends Bay Casino has long been envisioned as a centerpiece of the development, but economic conditions delayed the project. Work on the two hotel properties, a Residence Inn and Hampton Inn, was slated to begin in 2007 but was put on hold during the economic recession.
Olympia initially envisioned at 2018 groundbreaking for the casino project, but that construction was delayed, then held back further by state restrictions implemented during the coronavirus outbreak.
”We’re in the midst of a pandemic, so we’re approaching with some caution,” Graham told Reno CBS television affiliate KTVN when a business license was initially granted for the casino in May 2020.
Legends Bay Casino is slated to open in mid-2022, according to KRNV-TV in Reno.
By the time Legends Bay opens to the public, folks in Nevada hope the state will be well beyond the coronavirus pandemic that forced the gaming industry to close for over three months in 2020. Casinos in the Silver State reopened in June with new guidelines including capacity limits designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The state first allowed casinos to open at 25 percent of capacity on gaming floors, with that limit gradually rising to 35 percent and then 50 percent in mid-March — just in time for the NCAA basketball tournament, one of the biggest events for sportsbooks each year.
It was a needed boost for a Nevada gaming industry that took in $7.873 billion in winnings in 2020, nearly 35% lower than the $12.032 billion collected in 2019. Nevada’s seven-day average of coronavirus cases was 293 on March 31, according to The New York Times, far reduced from the weekly average of over 2,400 from January.