The Demise Of The Las Vegas Club Came Slowly

August 18, 2015
The Demise Of The Las Vegas Club Came Slowly

The Las Vegas Club shuttered its table games and only inside bar Sunday night. The slots and video poker machines, many of which still operate on coins, will remain online until midnight on Wednesday.

The doors will then be locked in anticipation of a new concept by the owners of The D.

The Las Vegas Club brand was not purchased. It appears that the Las Vegas Club name is dead after an 85-year run.

Las Vegas Club started contracting last decade

The Las Vegas Club slowly died over the past ten years. The rear of the casino once hosted a sportsbook, keno lounge, a bar known as Frisky’s and a couple of hundred slot machines, most of which operated on coins.

The sportsbook and keno lounge closed in the mid 2000’s. The once-popular Dugout diner, located on the second level, also closed during that era. The escalators that connected the Main Street side of the casino to the Dugout were barricaded not long after.

A poker room opened between the main bar and cashier cage in 2007. It went permanently dark a few months later.

The Great Moments Room, a classic Las Vegas restaurant, shuttered in 2009. A Hawaiian café in the food court area also closed around this time.

As this decade started, Frisky’s was only open during peak hours. It finally stopped operating entirely as the slots in the area were taken out of service.

Las Vegas Club stopped offering valet in 2011. A sign directed visitors desiring valet parking to the Plaza.

The rear of the casino spread a few concepts that did not stick. One was a dance club aimed at older patrons. That concept failed and was replaced by a bingo room during the Plaza renovation. A haunted house known as the Screamont Experience, designed by the Amazing Johnathan, was built in 2012 in the same area. It did not return the following year.

The Amazing Johnathan discussed a Las Vegas Club renovation in 2013 that would have involved his work. That never happened.

The casino floor continued to shrink. Machines were taken out of service in the rear of the casino. By 2012, it was void of operating games. There were some layoffs during this time due to the smaller casino floor and closure of Frisky’s Bar.

Guests walked through a deserted area to get from the casino to the hotel and rear entrance on Ogden. The area held hundreds of old slots and video poker machines, dark and stacked, awaiting a new destination. Some were stored in the old haunted house.

Great Moments Room was replaced by Tinoco’s Kitchen. It closed in 2012. A sign notifying patrons of the Tinoco’s Kitchen closure at the front of the restaurant stated that it would reopen soon. It never did.

The only other attempt at a restaurant since then was in 2013 when the snack bar reopened, only to close a few months later. There have been no restaurants at Las Vegas Club since. Hungry patrons were directed to Plaza’s food court.

Hotel rooms have been empty for two years

The hotel was shuttered in 2013. It was only operating on busy weekends at the time. Only the North Tower was utilized. While the condition of the North Tower was on the low end, it was in better shape than the shuttered South Tower.

Later in 2013, Las Vegas Club closed the rear of the casino entirely, which was void of any activity, except for a few remnants of out of service slot machines. Walls were built to close it off from the open portions of the building.

Guests that entered from the former hotel front desk area or parking deck were detoured through what was once an employee corridor to keep them out of the closed rear area of the casino. It was an eerie entryway. The other doors to the rear of the casino were chained shut. The windows on the doors leading to the hotel front desk from the outside were covered.

Around the same time, slots and video poker in an area near the players club were removed. This room sat vacant except for a lonely cigarette machine. It was accessible to guests until the casino’s last few days.

The Royal Rewards desk was shuttered next. Players were sent to the Plaza, Las Vegas Club’s sister casino, for Royal Rewards transactions.

A gift shop was opened in what was previously a Fremont Street entrance to the casino in 2013, obstructing multiple entrances. Las Vegas Club employees often complained that this hurt visitation due to the casino’s poor visibility from Fremont Street.

The Las Vegas Jerky shop abandoned its Las Vegas Club location and moved to the Plaza during this time.

In December 2014, Las Vegas Club closed its parking deck. It also closed the rear entry to the building through the old employee corridor, forcing guests trying to enter from Ogden to walk around Las Vegas Club to Main Street or Fremont Street.

The Las Vegas Club limped along for its last two years, playing the same 80’s soundtrack that it did 20 years ago, with half of its casino floor abandoned. All hotel rooms and restaurants sat idle.

Who played at Las Vegas Club?

The casino relied on regulars that enjoyed coin slots and video poker machines that offered great returns, as well as tourists that were attracted by the party pit girls dealing blackjack and dancing in the front of the casino.

The slot area was mostly deserted during the week.

Employees treated guests well during this period. They were appreciative of any customers. Tips were often refused from regular players by slot attendants that were always quick with coin hopper fills and hand pays. Cocktail waitresses were happy to receive a buck or two from a regular and stay for a chat.

The Las Vegas Club was far from glamorous. It was an old grind joint.

Its attraction to those that continued playing as the property deteriorated included the high returns on video poker and slots, friendly longtime employees, great drink service and generous comps that were redeemable at restaurants at the Plaza.

It spread 3-2 blackjack, often for just $5. Craps and roulette were also $5. There was also $5 Most Liberal 21, a game that is still available at the Plaza.

Las Vegas Club spread nickel video poker with big progressives on pay tables better than low rollers would find almost anywhere else in Nevada.

Many of these popular coin operated slots and video poker machines will end up at the Plaza, according to Las Vegas Club employees.

Tamares Group to concentrate on Plaza

Tamares Group will concentrate on the Plaza. The Plaza underwent a $35 million renovation in 2010 that included furnishings from the failed Fontainebleau Las Vegas in the hotel rooms. It is among the more modern downtown Las Vegas casinos and more of a resort than most its competitors around Fremont Street.

The Plaza has great potential and is extremely underrated.

Some small changes and a marketing blitz can fix that. It is well-positioned to benefit from the investment at the former Las Vegas Club location by its competitor, although that opening may be two or more years away.

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