15 years in the making

Nevada regulator recommends license approval of Legends Bay Casino in Sparks; venue to open in August

Legends Bay Casino rendering.
Reading time 2:38 min

After a 15-year wait, Legends Bay Casino near Sparks Marina Park Lake, east of Reno, is finally set to join the Nevada gaming landscape. The state's Gaming Control Board unanimously recommended on Wednesday the approval of licensing for the venue. After a decade and a half, the cost of the project was ultimately cut down for developer Garry Goett, and the property will now open in August for a price tag four times less expensive than the initially projected budget. 

The Nevada regulator recommended licensing approval for Las Vegas-based Olympia Gaming and Legends Bay following a 90-minute hearing, and it will make a final decision on June 23 on the $120 million project. The property, which will be small by Las Vegas standards, will have a 40,000-square-foot casino with 660 slot machines and 10 table games as well as 300 employees.

It will also feature a sportsbook operated by Derek Stevens’ Circa Sports, his first operation in Northern Nevada. Top managers at Casino Fandango will oversee both the Carson City property and Legends. The upcoming Legends property will be the first from-the-ground-up casino development in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area in more than two decades.

Derek Stevens, Circa Sports

The new facility will also have a “Food Truck Hall”, including street eats served from food trucks such as Pizza Genius, Loco Bueno and Red 88. A Galaxy Theatres complex with an IMAX screen shares a common wall with the casino property, and the venue will also be near two hotels Olympia already owns, a 104-room Residence Inn by Marriott and a 102-room Hampton Inn & Suites; as well as a retail center known as The Outlets at Legends

During Wednesday’s hearing, Goett spoke about the Great Recession that halted the project: “Everything stopped as far as you could see. We went five years and counting and we started to rethink the whole project. We came up with a more cost-sensitive project. So, where we had a maybe $500 million project that went to $350 million, and then we went down to $120 million. That’s where we ended up”, The Nevada Independent reported. 

Back in 2007 when the project was first presented, the customer base for a casino in the area was virtually non-existent. When it opens, the casino will be in a better financial position than back then when it was first conceived. Over that 15-year span, Goett’s Las Vegas-Olympia Companies developed the two 100-plus-room non-gaming hotels mentioned above, Hampton Inn and Residence Inn, near the casino site. 

Goett also told the control board that the retail The Outlets at Legends development brings in 12 million visitors annually. That customer base, along with an average of more than 2.5 million annual visitors to Olympia’s Fandango Casino in Carson City, is expected to help fill Legends Bay Casino. 

Fandango Casino in Carson City

The company had purchased the land to develop the casino in 2007 and prepared the property’s design in 2008. Over the following decade, Olympia opted to gradually downsize the casino from $500 million, eventually arriving at the size it is today, and broke ground in March 2021.

“We wanted to be very patient in getting good financing and a good equity position," Goett said. "We’re very comfortable with our project and I think we’re bringing a lot of new and exciting things to Northern Nevada gaming."

“Waiting has been an outstanding thing for us because we were supposed to be the anchors with Scheels. Instead, everybody else built," he further commented. "The shopping center is filled out and the hotels are hugely successful."

In February, Colorado-based Century Casinos announced it was buying the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks for $195 million, citing Northern Nevada’s economic climate, which has attracted several manufacturing and technology companies to open corporate facilities in the region, with gaming revenue in Washoe County topping more than $1 billion in 2021. 

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