Nevada: Legends Bay in Sparks living up to its promise

February 23, 2023 9:14 PM
Photo: Olympia Gaming (courtesy)
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
February 23, 2023 9:14 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports

The Nevada Gaming Commission Thursday praised the Legends Bay Casino in Sparks that by all measures so far has been an overwhelming success.

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Since it opened ahead of Labor Day last year, the first newest property in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area since 1995 has already proven to be a draw, based on gaming revenue.

In December, the latest month available, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Sparks had $15.1 million in gaming revenue, a 24.4% increase over the $12.1 million in December 2021. Only the Las Vegas Strip had a higher increase in December (25.1%).

Even though Legends didn’t open until Aug. 30, between July and December, Sparks recorded $92.7 million in gaming revenue, topping the $84.5 million in the last six months of 2021. The 9.63% increase was the largest gain in the state outside of South Lake Tahoe, which was hampered by wildfires in 2021.

The impact on Reno properties is still unfolding, but overall is expected to be positive by drawing in more customers from outside the region. Reno’s gaming revenue increased 6.2% in December and 1.4% for the last six months of 2022, from $378.8 million in 2021 to $384.4 million in 2022. The statewide average increase for the last six months of 2022 was 2.8%.

Combined, during the last six months of 2022, Reno and Sparks enjoyed almost $14 million more in gaming revenue than in 2021. Only rural areas in Washoe County registered a decrease of about $500,000 over that time span, a 1% decline.

“I expected that you would have huge success,” said Commission Chair Jennifer Togliatti. “It’s a beautiful property and anytime a property opens, there’s a lot of community assignment. I’m happy to hear that excitement is continuing and that you’re capitalizing on it.”

Located at The Outlets at Legends mall, the 80,000- square-foot casino is a project of Olympia Gaming, which opened Casino Fandango in Carson City in 2003. It’s part of the Olympia Companies, the master-plan developer of Southern Highlands and Skye Canyon communities in Las Vegas.

Olympia counted on Legends Bay attracting not only locals, but people from as far away as 400 miles, who already go to the shopping center with its 1.2 million square feet of space and high occupancy, including an IMAX theater.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been six months already,” said Robin Nedza, Olympia’s chief financial officer. “The first 30 to 45 days we experienced a lot of initial looks from the community and we had very positive feedback about our slot and gaming mix, customer service, and amenities. We didn’t really turn on the marketing budget until six weeks in and since then, it’s been a combination of trying to grow our database and customer loyalty while continuing to train our staff. There’s still work to do. We’re not done.”

The northern Nevada labor market remains competitive, which is a challenge for all employers in the region, Nedza said.

“It’s a bit of a battle, but I give so much credit to the team up there,” Nedza said. “Everyone has been willing to fill in and modify and adjust and cover where needed. That shows a positive attitude and willingness to be part of the team. We’re working through the challenges.”

Newly appointment Commissioner Brian Krolicki, the former Lt. Governor and northern Nevada resident making his first appearance, said he visited the property last week.

“It’s a lovely place,” Krolicki said. “It’s exciting what’s going on in the neighborhood and it’s been wonderful to watch.”

The casino floor has more than 650 slot and video poker machines, a high-limit slot room, and 10 table games. The sportsbook is operated by Las Vegas-based Circa Sports.

The casino doesn’t have a hotel, but more than 200 hotel rooms and suites are available on the site at the Hampton Inn by Hilton and Residence Inn by Marriott, both co-owned by Olympia.

Brendan Bussmann, managing partner of B Global, said in an interview that the new market entrant has done a “fabulous job” since its launch. He said there’s room in the region for the new entrant that helps freshen the marketplace.

“If you look at that market in general, it’s a growing community,” Bussmann said of the Reno metropolitan area. “If Reno was stagnant, you’d see some level of cannibalization, but there’s growth. This may be an opportunity to see the reinvention of the gaming product that for years has been squandered away and seen some of its market share go back into California.”