Here’s a first look inside the new Legends Bay Casino in Sparks
Point to something — anything — inside the new Legends Bay Casino and Court Cardinal will have an interesting story about it.
That comfy-looking seat placed in front of a nearby slot machine? That’s a Gary Platt chair that Cardinal picked after sitting on every chair featured at a casino expo.
The tables inside one of the casino’s restaurants? Those are raised exactly 28 inches from the floor, which happens to be the perfect height to match the accompanying chairs that are 18 inches high. The combination, by the way, is the sweet spot that’s comfortable for a wide range of people, the Olympia Gaming regional president said.
Even the carpet, whose swirling red, blue and tan patterns are reminiscent of agate crystal, has a tale behind it.
“A thousand hours went into deciding on these casino carpets, which you want to be warm and inviting but also resist stains and have a good flow,” Cardinal said.
“It’s the little things that you normally don’t think about that have hours and hours spent on them.”
Then again, when you’re getting ready to open a $130 million casino — the first new ground-up casino project in Reno-Sparks for more than two decades — Cardinal says it’s crucial to be on top of everything. Whether it be the hiring of nearly 300 employees, the kind of food served in the various restaurants, and, yes, the carpet being used, Cardinal is keeping track of every little detail prior to Legends Bay Casino’s Aug. 30 opening.
Court was even able to say exactly how many gaming machines are on the floor at Legends Bay Casino at the moment.
“Six hundred sixty-five,” Cardinal said without skipping a beat. “I know because we’ve got to pay taxes on every machine.”
Legends Bay Casino getting ready for the home stretch
In and around the casino, the sight of employees putting various finishing touches on Legends Bay Casino is commonplace.
Several machines have panels open as technicians work on setting them up. Inside Duke’s Steakhouse, new employees gather around a large counter surrounded by a wall of wine bottles to familiarize themselves with the menu.
Outside, a man stands on a raised platform while diligently cleaning the exterior glass. Just below, a couple of guards watch by the front door to ensure that only employees and authorized personnel enter the property. Security was beefed up after some members of the public wandered in to check out the casino.
“We’ve had a lot of requests from people wanting to see the property,” Cardinal said.
All requests have been turned down, however, as Legends Bay Casino hunkers up for the final stretch. Cardinal, who opened Olympia Gaming’s Casino Fandango in Carson City as well as a few other casinos, says he’s quite aware of how busy the final days get before a facility finally opens its doors.
“A lot of stuff is still getting wired up,” Cardinal said. “We’re also doing a lot of training right now.”
So far, Legends Bay Casino has been fortunate with filling up all its vacant positions, according to Cardinal. Despite challenges posed by the Great Resignation, which has seen many businesses nationwide struggle to hire and keep employees since the pandemic, hiring has gone smoothly at the new Sparks casino.
Finding employees in Reno-Sparks was also a lot easier compared to Carson City, including hiring experienced workers coming from other casinos, Cardinal added. Costs, however, have definitely gone up, he said.
“Salaries across the board had to be raised in the last few years because of COVID,” Cardinal said. “But that’s happening industrywide.”
There are always going to be bumps here and there
Cardinal smiles like a kid in a candy store as he walks down the floor and reaches a large machine.
The machine features a pair of slots set back to back, with the four vertical screens arcing in a giant half circle with several images of a buffalo — a familiar mascot for slot aficionados. Cardinal called it the “giant-giant Buffalo arch.”
“They don’t build them anymore and we got the only one in Northern Nevada,” Cardinal said.
Buffalo slots along with Lightning Link slots are two of the most popular machines in the market right now, according to Cardinal. Buffalo slots are especially popular among slot machine lovers due to their volatile nature. While it can be easy to quickly rack up a huge loss, it’s also easy to string together big wins, Cardinal said.
In addition to gaming machines, the Legends Bay Casino floor also has several tables for games like craps and poker. The casino does not have a poker room, however.
“You need poker rooms when you have a large, out-of-town contingency and the large hotel-casinos can support that,” Cardinal said. “When you’re a local casino, though, it’s not as profitable and you end up having the same eight guys in there.”
Legends Bay Casino also scrapped plans for a buffet due to COVID concerns and rising food costs, opting to do an indoor food truck hall instead.
It still has a sportsbook, however, which is also the first one in Northern Nevada to be run by Las Vegas-based Circa Sports. Clients will be able to try out the sportsbook along with the rest of the property’s amenities when Legends Bay Casino opens in six days.
Although Cardinal has opened his share of casinos, it’s admittedly been 19 years since his last one, which was the Casino Fandango in Carson City. The last few days are also some of the most crucial when opening a new casino.
“There are always going to be bumps here and there,” Cardinal said. “You just have to figure them out and overcome them.”
While walking through the casino floor, Cardinal took a breath in response to a comment about Legends Bay Casino’s “new casino smell.”
“It’s the first one (in Reno-Sparks) in over 25 years so you’re not going to have a lot of casinos with that new casino smell,” Cardinal said with a laugh.