The Nevada Gaming Control Board Wednesday recommended licensing for the Legends Bay Casino in eastern Sparks. When it opens in August, Legends Bay will be the first new property in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area since 1995, when the Silver Legacy opened in downtown Reno.
The matter now goes before the Nevada Gaming Commission at its meeting on June 23.
Located in the Outlets at Legends shopping center, Legends will have an 80,000-square-foot casino with multiple restaurants and a race and sportsbook operated by Las Vegas-based Circa Sports, its sixth in Nevada and first in Northern Nevada.
The casino is a project of Olympia Gaming, which also owns and operates Casino Fandango in Carson City, opened in 2003. It’s part of the Olympia Companies, the master-plan developer of Southern Highlands and Skye Canyon communities in Las Vegas.
In 2007, Olympia purchased the 14 acres where Legends Bay is located. The company planned to break ground in 2008, but that was postponed due to the Great Recession. Construction finally commenced in March 2021.
The casino is integrated into the shopping center to provide a gaming and retail experience. There are more than 200 hotel rooms and suites at the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton and Residence Inn by Marriott on the site that were developed by Olympia in 2017 and 2018.
“The hotels have performed exceptionally well for us since the day they opened and gave us greater comfort in moving forward with this project,” said Garry Goett, chairman and CEO of the Olympia Companies.
Goett said they are counting on the casino to attract locals and people from as far away as 400 miles who already go to the shopping center.
“We’re looking forward to introducing this space to the local community and out-of-market visitors,” Goett said. “Hopefully, it will quickly become a fun and exciting social hub in Sparks.”
The popular shopping center has 1.2 million square feet, an IMAX theater, and high occupancy, Goett said. “All of those things will contribute to a robust start at Legends Bay,” Goett said. “(The mall) has the kind of customer we would welcome into our casino.”
Goett said they’ve tried to “capture a contemporary look” for the casino, while retaining a northern Nevada image with stones on columns. The sign is large, yet simple.
“We were very careful not to be a Las Vegas casino,” Goett said. “This is a northern Nevada casino and we used northern Nevada interior designers for the project. I think they’ve done a wonderful job in bringing the contemporary and sophisticated to the casino, at the same time retaining a strong feeling of northern Nevada.”
The casino floor will measure 40,000 square feet and be on one level. Two large bars will anchor 10 table games with the Circa sportsbook adjacent to a bar. It will have more than 660 slot machines.
“This is a big advantage for us,” Goett said. “When you go into a lot of the other casinos, they have old slots and some new ones. We have a wonderful opportunity to have almost all new machines and they’re very dynamic and exciting.”
Five dining experiences inside the casino will include the 24-hour LB Grill. The casino will also have some original concepts.
“Legends Bay Casino is driving dining in a new direction with the Food Truck Hall, where vintage food trucks meet visionary cuisine,” the casino said in a press release this week. “Get your grub on at this unique 5,000-square-foot culinary and entertainment destination, featuring a variety of quick eats options from vintage restored trucks, including Pizza Genius (served up in a 1940s’-era farm truck), Loco Bueno (coming in hot from an iconic 1969 Chevy P30 step van), and Red 88 (from a classic 1955 Ford Vanette).”
The casino will bring its high-end Duke’s Steak House concept from its Carson City casino. Duke is Goett’s nickname.
“Duke’s is the spot for eating in Carson City,” Goett said. “And that’s backed up by the legislators now. It’s successful and we wanted to bring that to Legends Bay. It’s a natural fit.”
As for Circa, the board recommended it be licensed to operate the Legends Bay race and sportsbook. Circa owner Derek Stevens said they’re happy to expand their Nevada footprint from their five locations in southern Nevada.
Stevens said they walked around the Legends Bay area and if there had been a cartoon cloud above him, people would have seen his thoughts about the opportunity that’s going to be unbelievable.
“We’ve been actively looking for a northern Nevada location for a number of years,” Stevens told the board. “Unfortunately, we never found the right deal. The stars never aligned. Then one day, I had an opportunity to meet with Mr. Goett and COO DeCourcy Graham and they explained what they were doing. I wasn’t very familiar with Sparks in any way, but after they explained what was going on and how Sparks was growing, we got very interested.”
Circa operates sportsbooks in Iowa and Colorado and will open one in Illinois during the fourth quarter of 2022.
Legends Bay will employ about 300 people.