Shuttered Western Casino in downtown Las Vegas going back on the market

March 25, 2024 9:10 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
March 25, 2024 9:10 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports

The Western Hotel & Casino on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas was shuttered in 2012 and put up for sale, with no buyers. The Western is back on the market four years after the death of internet entrepreneur and venture capitalist Tony Hsieh in November 2020.

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Hsieh’s estate managers disclosed their plans last week to the Nevada Gaming Commission when it granted a one-day license to operate slots as a requirement to keep the Western’s gaming license active.

The property opened in 1970, built by casino legend Jackie Gaughan. It was sold in 2004 and resold in 2013 to Hsieh, who was investing millions to revitalize downtown Las Vegas. The hotel has long been demolished, but the shuttered casino remains standing.

Dara Goldsmith, the attorney for the Hsieh estate, told the Commission that the property was purchased as part of the rejuvenation of the Fremont East corridor. Her client, Richard Hsieh, Tony’s father, is the administrator of the estate and wants to dispose of it.

In the past year, the estate received a letter of intent to buy the property, but the purchaser, who wasn’t identified, pulled out of the deal. She didn’t provide a reason, but insisted interest remains strong.

“We have active interest in the property and are optimistic we will get this property set up for redevelopment,” Goldsmith said. “What’s interesting about this property is that many people on the outside automatically thought it was going to be condemned or taken down. If you’ve ever been in the Western during the Life is Beautiful festival, you know it’s still in pristine condition. I’m hopeful it will be renovated and operated in the future. It has a retro Palm Springs-like vibe and would really be a wonderful addition in downtown next to the (Fremont9 apartments).”

Goldsmith said the estate has been open for so long, because the IRS routinely audits estates in which a 40% estate tax is imposed.

“We could close the estate a year after the 706 estate-tax return is accepted, which would probably put us in 2027,” Goldsmith said, adding that some litigation of the estate is pending in Nevada and Utah.

In addition to the gaming license, the city of Las Vegas tavern license has been extended until February 2025.

“We’re optimistic to get this property reopened,” Goldsmith said. “We know you have a few grandfathered licenses out there, and we’re hoping this will be a success story in the future.”

Goldsmith said they went through a process more than a year ago where they interviewed brokers nationally and locally for the downtown properties in the estate. They chose three brokers, because the various properties require special skillsets.

“Mr. Hsieh didn’t own one type of property,” Goldsmith said. “We interviewed 12 brokers and chose three, two of which merged. We’re working with Logic and Avison Young at the present time. This is one of the Logic properties. Part of our marketing concern was that we’re so close to the two-year license renewals and wanted to wait to have the tavern and casino licenses renewed to really begin the active marketing. It’s been marketed, but not a full-court press—in my Sweet 16 terminology,” she said, referring to this week’s March Madness NCAA basketball tournament.