Newest Las Vegas locals’ property Durango Casino & Resort opens Tuesday morning

December 5, 2023 9:00 AM
Photo: Clint Jenkins/Red Rock Resorts (courtesy)
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
December 5, 2023 9:00 AM

Red Rock Resorts on Monday unveiled its $780 million Durango Casino & Resort that serves local residents in the southwest Las Vegas valley and regional guests looking to stay off the Strip as part of its aggressive strategy of expansion into Las Vegas neighborhoods.

The casino along the I-215 Beltway opens at 10 a.m. Pacific Time Tuesday morning, and employees on Monday were putting finishing touches on landscaping and other preparations in what’s expected to be a packed week and month for the property – a ritual among Las Vegas residents whenever a new casino opens its doors.

Clint Jenkins/Red Rock Resorts (courtesy)

Red Rock operates its flagship Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in Summerlin and the similarly upscale Green Valley Ranch in Henderson. There’s also Santa Fe Station, Boulder Station, Palace Station, and Sunset Station properties together with its Wildfire Properties. It’s looking to double its portfolio of casinos by 2030, and Durango Casino & Resort is the start of that growth.

Executives are already eyeing expansion on the Durango site and working on the Inspirada master plan in west Henderson. The company also has property on Las Vegas Boulevard South, North Las Vegas, Skye Canyon in northwest Las Vegas, and a site near Town Center Drive and Flamingo Boulevard in Sumerlin between Red Rock Resort and Durango.

It’s part of a strategy to take advantage of the growing population of the valley that has been fueled by more affluent Californians relocating to take advantage of no state income tax and less expensive housing.

Red Rock Resort is more than eight miles away from the new property, while the nearest competing casinos are Boyd Gaming’s Orleans at seven miles and the Silverton Casino nearly eight miles away.

“Their whole strategy is these strategically placed casinos and if you mapped out where they have casinos and look for gaps where they don’t have casino and overlay [where] the biggest centers of population growth are, you would see that area where Durango…is would be the prime target for them to open a new facility,” Josh Swissman, founding partner of GMA Consulting. “I think that’s going to be very accretive to their portfolio. It’s serving part of the valley that’s underserved in terms of having a locals’ casino.”

Red Rock executives are dubbing the Durango property with its southwest motif as “affordable luxury” and part of the look for its luxury casinos in the future. It’s expected to be one of the highest-margin properties in the Red Rock system. and part of the look for its luxury casinos in the future. It’s expected to be one of the highest-margin properties in the Red Rock system.

Clint Jenkins/Red Rock Resorts (courtesy)

Durango has 200 rooms in this first phase, which the company says are on par with Red Rock Resort and Green Valley Ranch. Room rates on its website for this week through the end of January range between $399 and $599 a night.

The 83,000 square-foot casino has 2,300 slots and 63 table games, and a high-limit area to cater to wealthier guests. Durango is setting itself up as a neighborhood place to hang out, grab something to eat and watch a sporting event with its food hall and four signature restaurants.

Red Rock through its Station Casinos brand typically caters to about 70% local residents.

“When they open one of these it’s not just a casino but has great restaurants and becomes a bit of a community center, and those types of assets are underrepresented in that area,” Swissman said. “I think it’s going to be a big hit. Just to have those types of restaurants in that proximity is a big asset.”

Durango General Manager Dave Horn said Monday he feels a mix of anxiety and excitement about the opening after spending 19 months on the project and 27 years with the company.

“It’s surreal,” Horn said. “Looking at this project on drawings and dirt to see what it has become is a beautiful moment.”

Red Rock Resorts (courtesy)

Horn said the property will offer a “food hall moment to something that’s nobody’s seen,” with family style and tradition from New York with Prince Street Pizza, Los Angeles with Irv’s Burgers, and Philadelphia’s Fiorella italian. There’s also a Hawaiian-centric cafe, oyster bar, and Yu Or Mi Sushi and Shang Artisan Noodle.

“We have a fantastic amenity of bigger-box restaurants that will incorporate local characters and people from out of town,” Horn said. “There’s vibe moments in three places that might be the best in the city for sure, and we have done a good job to capture that for locals and out-of-town guests as well.”

Those vibe areas include Nico’s Prime Cuts & Fresh Fish, the Bel-Aire Lounge, and the sportsbook adjacent to The George Sportsman’s Lounge that will feature live entertainment, bartop gaming, sports viewing, patio parties, and full-service dining.

Clint Jenkins/Red Rock Resorts (courtesy)

“It’s a place to go on a date and yet still bring in your friends for March Madness,” Horn said.

There’s also an immersive cocktail lounge hidden behind the walls of the Mijo Modern Mexican Restaurant called Wax Rabbit. The speakeasy has DJs that spin music on vinyl records.

Horn said Red Resort Resorts only had one property when he started with the company, and he has seen the evolution of its casinos over the years. Durango Casino & Resort fits into the luxury brand rather than its core properties.

“This is the next generation of what that luxe property should be for the company given Green Valley was 22 years ago and Red Rock was 17 years ago,” Horn said.

Horn said he’s expecting the rush of people to come opening week and that it should be just as frenetic as when Red Rock opened.

The property has about 1,400 workers in place after more than 30,000 applications and about 8,000 interviews, Horn said.